Business networking refers to building and establishing relationships with people who may be beneficial to your business and career in the future or may serve as a potential client. Networking and public relations are one of the key elements in succeeding in business today.
Types of business networks
Casual contact networks: Casual contact networks are the networks that are built with people from overlapping professions. In such networking events, anyone from any field can attend and build networks.
Strong contact networks: These are done by organizations with the purpose to exchange business referrals. These groups meet more frequently intending to provide highly focused and valued opportunities among the members. The people in these groups will market for you by carrying each other’s business cards and connecting with opportunities.
Community service clubs: Rather than being focused on referrals, these organizations work with the motive of serving the community, building long-lasting, deep, and broader networks that benefit you in the long term.
Professional association: The members of these organizations are focused on a specific field. The main purpose of you going to such associations will be to meet and attract potential clients based on the area of service you provide through your business.
Online/Social media networks: In this digital world, from a business point of view, the ideal use of social media is to build your brand and brand image online and deeply connect to your followers and connections online. Social media marketing, having a loyal follower count, and building connections online are some of the most prominent methods used by entrepreneurs today.
How can you build your business network?
1. Go to networking events
To build a successful business network, you need to meet and connect with the right people. Business networking events are a perfect place where you can meet with the right people at the right time as the prime goal of these events is to mingle and share contacts and expand your network. Many big and small companies organize such events in Nepal too.
In Nepal, various nonprofit organizations are dedicated to business and entrepreneurship as well. Some of them are listed below.
Nepalese Young Entrepreneurs Forum (NYEF): NYEF is a membership-based member-run nonprofit organization that organizes and conducts various seminars, fellowship programs, and events, and projects that are aimed at networking, building and enhancing skills, and becoming an outstanding entrepreneur.
Welcome to Entrepreneur From Nepal (E4N): E4N is a platform for Nepali entrepreneurs to share their ideas and create opportunities. They also help you connect with the right people who can be helpful in your business as well as build a successful business network.
Change Fusion Nepal (CFN): CFN is another organization in Nepal which aims to provide aspiring social entrepreneurs with resources that help them build long-lasting and sustained businesses. They help with gaining business knowledge, providing mentorship, building business networks, and financing for your business.
Women Entrepreneurs Association of Nepal (WEAN): WEAN is a nonprofit organization formed by a group of Nepali female entrepreneurs to promote, encourage and help women in business. They help women set up and grow their businesses and build business networks.
2. Overcome introversion
If you are a shy, timid and anxious person who is socially awkward, having a successful business network is an extremely big challenge. When it comes to business networking, you have to overcome your introversion and express qualities that draw people in and make them want to connect with you.
You need to build social qualities and skills like confidence, leadership, public speaking, correct body language and be able to charm other people.
3. Build a conscious self-image
In the world of business and career, a lot depends on your image and how you are perceived. Damage to your reputation will serve as a threat to your company. The way you are perceived in the world determines the expectations people have from you.
In the business world, a person who appears to be stable and a confident leader with a huge potential for success who has a uniqueness to him/her is more likely to be valued over someone who lacks confidence and is all over the place.
Craft your inner and outer self-image carefully and consciously. Be clear about your goals and what you want to achieve. Be mindful regarding what kind of people you want to attract into your network, which people you want to hang out with, and who will serve you the most in your business.
First have a clear inner self-image regarding who you are, what do you want, and what your core values are then craft your outer self-image or how you want to be perceived by the world.
4. Establish friendship, not just contacts.
Think for a second, would you choose a contact over a friend or a friend over someone whom you barely know deeply?
People are more likely to help and support friends over contacts; therefore even in business settings, try to build friendship and deep connection with people rather than just building contacts and having small talks.
When a person of value walks into a room or a networking event, think of him as a potential friend and act accordingly. However, always be mindful not to act too friendly and share your embarrassing stories in your first meeting.
5. Be dynamic and use social media
Today, social media works as your portfolio and is deeply connected to how you are perceived in the world. It is no surprise that whenever we meet a new person, most likely when we come home, we will search and look up their social media to find out more about them.
If you want to build a successful business network, you need to be very careful about your digital footprint. What you post and share online may boost or damage your professional image.
Also, being active on more professional platforms like LinkedIn and having an impressive portfolio will add as a plus for your business network. The content you share and speak up about helps people connect and potentially respect you more; therefore use social media actively, but use it wisely.
6. Knowing your worth
When you go to build business networks, you need to know your worth and what you bring to the table. Recognizing your value and having confidence in your product is a must.
If you cannot convey the message of your company and represent your brand in a glorious and high-value manner, no matter how good of a product you have, you will fail in networking.
Your confidence, communication, and presenting skills of both you as a personal brand and your company as a whole will determine your success in networking and growth of the company.
7. Become an icebreaker
Many people struggle with initiating conversations and if you learn the skill of becoming a conversational icebreaker when done the right way, you will make a good first impression, show conference, and will be remembered.
This will also most likely make you more approachable as well as charming which then makes it easier for you to build more networks as people will be drawn to you.
8. Bring props
Whether you are in a business networking event or having brunch at a restaurant, having your business card and a pen is a must at all times. Always carrying a book with you no matter where you go will always leave an impression of a person who reads and is knowledgeable. This will make people take you more seriously.
9. Remember names
Learn the art of remembering names and people. Everyone loves to be recognized and wishes to be remembered. When you meet someone coincidentally for the second time and remember their names, it leaves a really good impression and the person is more likely to have a good attitude towards you. You are also more likely to be remembered if you remember others and initiate conversations.
10. Listen, observe and follow up
Whenever you are having interactions with people, listen more than you speak. Be observant of the people and the environment around you. Always be mindful of not saying more than necessary and actively listen to the other person and encourage others to speak up and share their ideas and then be very careful with what you speak.
A lot in the business world depends on reputation so build a solid one and don't say or do anything that may be damaging to your reputation. Follow up on people who promised to do things for you and help and follow up with your promise if you promised to do something for others as well.
Importance of networking
Increase visibility: Networking will help you get referrals, attract more clients, build a strong positive image and gain publicity. The more people you connect with, the more visible you become and your value will increase accordingly.
Mentorship: You may potentially find mentors and people who will help and guide you in the growth of your business.
Potential resource: Networking is one of the most effective ways to accelerate your business career. Whenever you need a helping hand or face a crisis you will always be linked with someone who can help you overcome the situation.
Your network is your net worth: The kind of people you connect with will determine the benefits you sow through your network. The opportunity, self-image, and exposure are highly dependent on your network and whom you choose to connect with. When connected with the right people, your network can be one of your greatest assets for a successful business.
New ideas and perspectives: Having a broad network and connecting with many people will help you learn new ideas and concepts and broaden your perspective. You will get to know and learn about many experiences, get expert advice and have a wide range of knowledge.
Potential access to industry influencers: In the world of business, people know each other, and if networking is done right, you may find yourself among influencer figures in the business industry. Never underestimate the power of networking; one person can change your life forever.
You will make new friends: In the journey of growth and success, networking will lead you to make new friendships with people who share a similar mindset and values as you do.
Often overlooked, networking is one of the most important assets of a successful person. We live in a society and we need people in every step of our life. When done right, one person can change your life forever and take you to the path of success you've always dreamed of.
However, in the process of building a connection and a reputation, always be careful not to let the outer forces stop you from being your true authentic self.
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