Business networking often involves making connections not just with likely clients or customers, but also with some individuals who could refer business to you or positively mention your name to individuals they know. It may also involve making contacts with people who provide training or information and can be a great way to locate reliable vendors that you can hire for your business.
Even if most people associate networking with asking for some favors, effective networkers know networking isn’t all about them. Business networking also revolves around creating trusting friendships and relationships with other business owners.
Oftentimes, business networking is often done at local events or gatherings. But, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual business networking is becoming not only popular, but only necessary. As long as you have a reliable internet connection and a working computer or mobile device, you can network virtually.
You can also take advantage of other wireless connection technologies. If you’re familiar with the online networking scene, you might be wondering what is SD-WAN and how it can help you. Software-defined wide area networks, or SD-WAN, allow you to connect a variety of services and users over a centralized architecture. If you’ve been looking for an efficient solution for your networking needs, you may want to consider SD-WANs to determine if one would be a great solution for your virtual business networking.
Regardless of your experience with business networking and whether you’re networking in person or virtually, below are some tips you can take into consideration to enjoy better results:
Dress Professionally and Appropriately
When it comes to business networking or social networking, you should always dress the part, even if you’re doing it virtually. It doesn’t mean that you have to wear expensive clothes, but wearing something a little on the dressy side and skipping the baggy pants. If possible, you can ask for suggestions from image consultants.
Know the Conversational Icebreakers
If you want to overcome any awkwardness and make a great first impression, consider opening with compliments. For instance, you can tell the person sitting next to you at the seminar that you like their tie or shoes. You should also try asking them questions—asking people questions provides contacts the opportunity to talk about themselves. Ask how they’ll go into the field and what they think of the recent development that affects your industry. Engaging with your new contacts in this way will give them a much more positive impression of you.
Share Your Industry Knowledge
If you’ve been in your industry for several years already, you’ve probably gained more knowledge that may be helpful to other business owners. Establishing yourself as an expert is effective in attracting potential clients as well. Keep in mind that people like doing business with others who know what they’re doing.
Consider teaching at an industry conference or giving talks at some local venues. You may also have a mentoring program that connects some upcoming professionals with your company’s employees.
Never be Afraid to Ask for Help
Everybody needs help now and then. If you want all your business networking efforts to be a success, you need to be brave enough to ask for an extra hand. Before attending your next seminar or meetup, ensure that you can articulate what you’re seeking. Then, when somebody asks the ways to help you, don’t hesitate to tell them everything. Just speak nothing but the truth.
Effective business networking doesn’t only revolve around you. It’s also an opportunity for you to connect with others. A great way to make good first impressions is being active listeners. Most people passively listen to others—they may seem attentive but, in reality, they’re waiting for a pause in the conversation so they can jump in and discuss what’s on their mind.
So, when somebody’s talking to you about their business, ask some follow-up questions and pay attention so they can tell you that you’ve been listening to them. Active listening also provides you the opportunity to learn something.
Business networking seems like a big financial and time commitment for a small return on investment. However, it provides a variety of advantages to your business. Aside from being able to connect with some business owners, you’ll also be able to generate new ideas and promote your business using advertising through word-of-mouth. So, make sure to follow the tips above and see the difference between successful networking for your business.