Historically, building a business network meant going door to door to meet potential customers. It meant cornering your neighbors, friends, family — really anyone who would listen — and talking their ear off about your company.
While these tactics are not completely outdated, the internet has certainly made it easier for us to network in the contemporary business world. Here are several tips on how to build an effective network as well as understand why it is so important to do so:
Networking’s Mutually Beneficial Relationship
Networking has an inherent “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” quality to it. When done effectively, networking links business owners together and facilitates them into becoming enthusiastic advertisements for one another. As your business grows and you need to hire more employees, add vendors or move to a bigger building, your network can also be a rich source of knowledge and suggestions. You likewise can be the same to them, making the relationship a win win.
Networking in the Modern Context
In order to network as effectively as possible, consider looking to those who have excelled at it. For example, Joshua Cooper Ramo, a policy expert and businessman, has spent lots of time in China in order to grow his network and keep his name relevant in that market. He’s also written a bestseller about harnessing the power of human connection. “The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune and Survival in the Age of Networks” explores the Digital Age — a new reality that’s as transformative today as the Industrial Revolution was decades ago.
Personal Branding and Networking
When it comes to getting the word out about your personal brand — be it a motto, signature product, logo or anything else — networking is the way to do. Be as visible and accessible as you can by attending industry conferences, being highly active on social media and holding live Q and A sessions on Facebook and other sites. The more you get out of your office and out into the public eye the stronger your personal brand will become. As a side note, while on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, don’t be afraid to move away from constant business talk and show your personal side a bit. Post a photo of your cute dog or a selfie at the beach. Doing so will show the humanity behind your business.
Network Globally Through LinkedIn and Other Sites
Thanks to the power of the internet and international sites like LinkedIn, you can now build a worldwide network on your computer. By being connected not only locally but globally, you can expand your network to companies located around the world. Reach out to owners of similar businesses in other countries and ask them to connect, and then start an online dialogue about how you might be able to learn from and help one another.
Start Networking Today and Help to Build your Company
Networking in today’s world still involves putting yourself out there and meeting new people. But you don’t have to go door to door like business owners did a few decades ago. By researching and being inspired by modern day networking experts, understanding why networking is important and using social media and other methods to help you, you will be well on your way to building an effective network for your business.