The Power of Business Networking Is in Your Hands
We are far more likely to do business with people we know or like, or people our associates recommend. This is so much simpler than trying to attract the attention of strangers who have no reason to favour us over our competition. This natural affinity is the result of our hard wiring as “social animals”. When we were hunter-gatherers, we relied on our tribe for survival.
Our social instincts come together in the business world through networking. This can be a one-on-one, informal process, or it may be an organised group that meets regularly. Networking meetings are often designed for businesspeople to find business opportunities, share information or seek potential partners for ventures, according to Wikipedia.
Think carefully before joining international business networking organisations. Some use pyramid structures, where only the upper levels benefit meaningfully. However, networking can become a powerful part of any business plan when used more informally among companies sharing common interests.
Networked companies tend to favour informal structures, since interrelationships may develop at almost any level between organisations. By contrast, non-networked companies may be hierarchical, where only the most senior personalities select and control the suppliers and customers they interact with.
True networking is a social activity shared by like minded people. The main purpose is exploring shared values; business networking is what comes as a result. If your peers discover you are only in it for what you can personally get out of it, they will soon shun you and may ask you to leave.
The best kind of networking takes place in groups where we naturally belong. In other words, we are there because we share a common cause or set of values. You will find that once you share friendship and camaraderie, the leads follow. This brings me back to a common point I share often during this course.
The most effective marketing is both ethical and moral. Remember, we prefer to do business with people we like. If we dislike their values, it’s not going to happen — at least, not for long.
Remember, business networking is a two-way street. The measure we receive is the measure we give out. We should put our network members’ interests first, by being loyal to their businesses. Then, and only then, will they return that trust by purchasing our goods and services or referring work.