Networking is one of those terms that get thrown around all the time, like “personal development” and “company culture”. Anyone in business probably knows that networking is important however it is easy to overlook just how essential it is to success.
Networking is important not only because it establishes connections which can be useful to you in a various ways. Networking also helps you to build your brand and establish your credibility in your sector, which is also critical for success in business.
Furthermore, how do you successfully network to support your business? Read on for more on why networking is so important and how you can do it well to support business growth and success.
Why Networking is Important
Networking is imperative to success for businesses of all sizes, to small operations and entrepreneurs, to large companies. First of all, great networking can be a great way to generate leads and secure new business. As businesses meet and connect with others, this can often lead to referrals from others, whether competitors who are at capacity, or from others in the industry who don’t offer that exact product or service.
It’s not just new customers that can follow from great networking. There are a range of other connections which can support your business in a variety of ways. For example, networking can help businesses to find new suppliers with superior products and/or lower costs. On the other hand, you may meet other businesses or professionals offering complimentary services that you can collaborate or partner with. Finally, networking raises the profile of your business in a more general sense, establishing your brand and helping to make your name as an industry leader.
The Best Ways to Network in Business
In 2020, probably the most common way to network is online. This is also arguably the most effective, with many businesses having built great success in reason years of the back of online networking. Of course, the king of all online networking platforms is LinkedIn, which is more relevant than ever. This is a great place to make contacts, but be aware that many other businesses and professionals are doing the same thing, so make sure your LinkedIn presence is strong. You must have a professional LinkedIn profile with as many connections as possible. It is also a good idea to have an active LinkedIn business page, and to join and be active in groups.
However, online networking goes far beyond LinkedIn. There are a large variety of social media and other platforms which can all be valuable for building a network. In most cases, this is all about establishing your expertise, either as a brand or an individual, to encourage others to seek your advice, and hopefully your services. A great way to do this is in forums such as LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, and Quora. Be active in these forums, not pushing your product, but simply answering questions and giving useful information. This will establish your profile, and is a great way to network and maybe even pick up a few customers.
Online networking offers many fantastic opportunities, but this doesn’t mean businesses should overlook the more traditional forms of networking, which still have much to offer. One of the great advantages of more traditional, face to face networking is that it is much easier to form rapport and build relationship with people in this kind of situation. It is much easier to form a connection being in the same room with someone than behind a computer.
There are many opportunities around for face to face networking. One great way is to join your local chamber of commerce, which is a great place to meet other businesses in your field, as well as local business in general. It is also a good idea to attend as many events as possible: this could be conferences and conventions in your sector, business events, or local community events. The more you get your face out there, the greater the opportunity to meet people and make valuable connections.
Trade shows are well-accepted as being highly effective in promoting products and building a brand. However, trade shows are also an excellent networking opportunity: these are events where the who’s who of your industry come together. This is an excellent opportunity to connect with not just potential customers, but also suppliers, collaborators and partners. Even networking with your competition can be highly advantageous.
In order to make the most of the networking opportunities offered by trade shows, you’ll want to book a space and fill it with a great booth. This will give you more chances to meet others in your industry, while both visiting them and encouraging them to come to you. There are a number of exhibition stand builders in London who can help you to put together an attention-grabbing booth to attract plenty of valuable connections.