85% of positions are filled through employee networks! Networking helps to open doors, make new contacts and build professional relationships. Everyone has heard the quotes “your network is your net worth” and “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” numerous times. However, the importance of enacting changes in your business activity to incorporate networking is crucial.
Key points to remember
- Successful networking is a crucial part of business interactions.
- The process of networking is still important even if you are already an established business owner.
- Networking can provide you and your business with job leads, possibilities for advancement and opportunities for professional improvement.
What is networking in terms of business?
Networking is used to increase opportunities for career advancement and business development by establishing relationships between yourself as a professional person and your business, and another business owner and their business for mutual benefit. The process involves intentionally seeking opportunities to grow and expand your network. For example, this can include intangible gains made by starting discussions or by meeting other business owners or individuals with expertise. The process is relatively straightforward and enables business owners to keep up with trends, while promoting your expertise and business in exchange for services, advice, experiences, knowledge or contacts.
Five key tips to grow valuable networks
Essentially, a network must be valuable in order to generate positive outcomes.
Follow these five tips to achieve success when networking.
- Be visible – upkeep with social media (especially LinkedIn), build rapport, and stay in touch with your connections.
- Build a reputation – brand visibility and sharing the origins of your brand and what you are trying to achieve provides a personable approach that sets you apart from others. Essentially, it provides a memorable experience.
- Keep long-term goals in mind – ensure long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships are formed and proactively maintained.
- Learn how to deal with setbacks – Ignored calls, declined meeting invites and declined introductions can be discouraging, however, keep trying and learn from your mistakes, as not every experience will be positive.
- Authentic relationships – If you build relationships which are not always for your personal gain, you will find that you receive more out of your networking endeavours.
Important areas of networking
There are three main areas where networking can be easily accessed and implemented.
A networking opportunity which is often overlooked is your own workplace. Taking the time and effort to get to know your colleagues is crucial to build relationships in a comfortable environment. Your colleagues already have something in common with you, hence, the conversation should flow effortlessly. Your colleagues have the potential to help you advance within your career and develop your career goals. You can engage with them by having a conversation in the break room through genuine, casual interaction and interest. Furthermore, as a business owner you have a valuable and unique opportunity to be a mentor and watch your colleagues succeed as a result of your support.
Networking for the purpose of developing your career is also important. The career development period is considered to start at your initial education and end at your retirement. During this period you can accelerate the pace of your career through clever networking to develop connections and learn from the experience of others. While your workplace may provide opportunity in terms of training and resources, you must continue your career development by connecting with other business professionals who can benefit you and your business.
Networking events are another opportunity for success at building professional relationships. At an event you have the opportunity to exchange information, ideas, professional contacts and increase your industry knowledge. Events are advertised frequently and can also be found through local community pages, business seminars, your university alumni page, mentoringship programs and by joining relevant clubs and groups.
I’m already a business owner, why should I worry about networking?
Networking is key to the success of your professional career and your business as connecting with other business owners paves the way for new ideas, extra resources, and valuable connections. Networking provides opportunities for partnerships, joint ventures and new areas of expansion for your business.
Offering assistance to others when in a superior position can be beneficial and rewarding. Additionally, other professional’s may have the capability to assist you with problems and provide advice, which places you in a unique position to consider various viewpoints and learn from their prior experiences. Networking can also link you and your business to potential employees to hire when a position becomes.
How do I avoid awkward encounters while networking?
Awkward encounters can arise when either yourself or the other person feels uncomfortable or unsettled. While you may feel awkward in the beginning, networking gradually becomes a learned experience that brings many opportunities for your business and personal career. Unavoidable awkward atmospheres can arise from simple aspects such as individual personalities, cultural conflicts and different corporate values. Some tips to communicate effectively with others include:
- Ensure not to talk over others;
- Make sure the other person feels valued;
- Be mindful of your body language and don’t direct the conversation to be self-centered;
- Ask questions about the other person and their business such as their hobbies and their business vision.
Moments where communicating seems difficult, are moments which offer the greatest learning and growth. Remember to be aware of the other person and what they are passionate about in order to keep the conversation flowing and build strong professional relationships.
How can we help?
Templated documents can help reduce the strain of everyday processes and legal compliance in your business. Click here to view a comprehensive library of legal documents which will free up time to foster better relationships with your staff and clients. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1300 988 954 for further support with your business needs.
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