We often wonder why some people are more successful in businesses than others. How do these individuals create new business opportunities and increase the visibility of their brand? The answer is simple – networking, says Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.
What is networking?
Some people might think that networking is being seen in the right places at the right times, working the room, shaking hands with as many people as possible and collecting a pile of business cards. Some of these assumptions are correct with these techniques working well at a fundamental level, but networking is much more: it’s a social economic activity that enables minds to be engaged in a powerful and meaningful conversation.
Networking is a skill that enables you to reach out to a diverse group of people, connecting many different cultures and sectors; once you have infiltrated your target market the opportunities can be endless. Fundamentally networking is all about sharing opinions and ideas. Being able to listen to other people’s views and opinions and then establishing connections to your own business streams is what it’s all about. Proving the value you add to your community helps build trust and enables you to leverage professional relationships.
The art of networking
The art of networking is not only meeting likeminded business contacts but also the ability to turn such a meeting into a business opportunity and a lead. This may seem complicated, but in fact the principles are common sense and are based around day-to-day activities. It is all about the power to attract people to be part of your world willingly by making them feel at ease in their course of conversation.
Always steer the conversation to the topics you feel comfortable sharing with people, not only because they can be of interest to you, but also because these topics would position you as an expert in and a credible resource. The intention is not to monopolise the conversation, but to use it as a tool to explore and learn more about your target audience and be able to use the best tactics in achieving your business goals.
Means of networking
A successful network can be achieved through several means of communication; through conventional ways such as face-to-face meetings, business groups, alumni organisations, cultural events, community activities, word of mouth, or, alternatively, it can be formed through modern tools such as virtual organisations, social media and online networking through various forums.
The value of networking
To ensure success through networking, it is important that a strategy is drawn up, outlining your goals and objectives, so you can benchmark your progress and success. This will enable you to rapidly build a professional identity and position yourself in the community where you want to be known.
The importance of communication with relevant individuals and groups, who share common interests and goals, should not be underestimated; together you can create broader objectives and increase the impact of networking successes for everyone involved.
Tactics and approach
Just like any other relationship, networking requires time and care. In order to maintain an effective network, you have to keep regular contact with the key influencers you have taken the time to get to know. It is important to take this a step further and explore what interests these individuals have and how they prefer to conduct business.
Your involvement with your network is a key factor in achieving rewarding relationships within the network. Through a positive attitude and open frame of mind to prospective new ideas, we can ensure longevity in our professional relationships, helping to establish more referrals and potentially more business prospects.
Innovative virtual methods
It is always said that it is not what you know but who you know that counts. This statement rings true today with millions of people around the world embracing the virtual networking portals. These people are constantly racing to stay connected through innovative tools to enhance their network connections. One cannot deny the role of various social media in connecting people and spreading news promptly. These tools also help to highlight the significant characteristics of individuals and businesses. There is no doubt that the online community is considered as the revolutionary tool to tap some business leads.
As we all know, networking is an indirect marketing tool, limited to a closed group of people you decide you want to interact with. It is the understanding you build around you and your business that demonstrate your value in tackling certain situations. And all of this comes at a price considerably less than what you would need for a research or advertising campaign.