The art of business networking

Posted in Business and entrepreneurship.

There’s a common saying that goes around: “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” While there are many debates about the truthfulness of this statement, research into this hypothesis is being conducted. As it turns out, it may not be an either-or kind of deal. Skills and proficiencies are important but so are contacts. In both business and job seeking, knowing the right kinds of people can position you in the right place to receive wonderful opportunities.

Some doors cannot be opened without a key and networking allows you to find those hard-to-find keys. Within the business world, recommendations from trusted connections usually hold more weight and credibility than when you vouch for yourself. Whittling down that initial barrier of mistrust between you and a potentially lucrative contact is the main driving force behind establishing a connection with someone.

Networking goes beyond just the simple exchange of business cards. It’s about establishing meaningful connections that lead to opportunities for collaboration, mentorship, and business growth.

How to network effectively

Establish a meaningful connection. Look for common ground with the people you meet. Find a shared interest or share industry knowledge. Identify a common acquaintance to break the ice. These are mere suggestions. The main thing to know is that a meaningful connection is a lot more memorable. The more you know about someone from your prior conversations, the more sincere of an impression you leave. On the other side of the coin, meaningful connections will leave a more lasting impression. You want your connections to remember you such that when an opportunity arises, they will remember to invite you.

Following up with connections outside of networking events is important. Relationships need to be nurtured and maintained. Send an email or a message on networking platforms to reiterate your interest in staying in touch. Offer to provide assistance or share relevant resources. Timely and thoughtful follow-ups can solidify the connection, making future collaborations more likely.

Be proactive. Always find ways to expand your network. There are many ways that you can expand your network and shared acquaintances are the simplest. Connections can be the gateway to new connections. However, there are more ways to grow your network.

Growing your network

Attend industry events such as conferences, seminars, or trade shows. These are prime environments for finding people with similar interests or within the same industry. Already there is common ground to begin networking. Be proactive and converse with professionals who attend these events. Ask questions and remember to share contact information.

Join professional organisations related to your industry. These organisations offer a wide range of networking opportunities. They organise networking events and webinars and offer forums for discussion. Make yourself known within the organisation by contributing to discussions and sharing knowledge.

Leverage online networking platforms such as LinkedIn. These platforms allow people to put themselves out there and search for contacts relevant to their needs. Maintain a strong online presence if you want to be sought after. The more of a presence you have, the more likely it is that people will want to connect with you. Post on social media and contribute to discussions. Additionally, check out other people’s profiles and reach out to them. While your network can grow by passively waiting on invites from people, the most effective way to expand your network is to reach out to people.