Business networking can feel a lot like mind games and manipulative for some people, but it doesn’t have to be. There are effective ways to build genuine and mutually beneficial relationships without you seeming to schmooze the other person for your exclusive benefit.
Improving your business networking skills could help you get ahead in your area of expertise while also making sure you bring value to those you interact with.
You can start doing specific things right now to make your experience in business networking much better. These will work whether you’re in an entry-level position or a high-ranking one, such as your own company’s CEO.
Take a look at the following ways to make business networking easier for you:
1. Improve Your Intra-Organizational Networking
Networking doesn’t only happen when you meet a group of strangers; it also does as you relate and build business relations within your current organization. If you aspire to rise through your organization’s ranks, then there are several things you can do to better your prospects. Some of which are:
- attending more workshops within your organization;
- keeping the contact details under your email signature updated;
- interviewing someone from a different department or branch to have a holistic appreciation of how your organization works, and
- remembering small details from previous conversations, which will help you in forming meaningful relations within the organization.
If you’re already in top management and would like to keep communication with those who work under you open, it’s still vital to follow these recommendations. Additionally, you have to ensure that all various branches and departments in your company are adequately connected to set the company’s stage for great networking. One approach to managing a wide area network is designed to make this task easy.
What is SD-WAN? SD-WAN stands for software-based wide area network. As the name suggests, it uses software instead of hardware to manage connectivity and data between centers. This makes it a huge timesaver in business networking and is cheaper than Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS). With it, you can be connected to branches within your organization that are outside your current location and improve the quality of connection even in traditionally low-connectivity zones.
2. Your Online Presence Should Represent You Well
Gone are the days when face-to-face interactions were the full face of business networking. Nowadays, with the surging use of the internet, a potential client or business connection is likely to get themselves acquainted with what you do through an online search.
Your profile that’s posted by the company you work for, as well as your LinkedIn profile, are now the new first impressions. Like all first impressions, these profiles must sell you well.
Don’t just say you’re an expert—demonstrate that you really are. By creating a comprehensive and professional profile with all the important details a potential client might need to know about you, you build the reader’s confidence in your work and skills.
Your online presence is your chance to subtly, but not so subtly, say, “I know what I’m doing.” Even if you’re not selling something, simply establishing your authority could be one of the best ways to meet both new clients and fellow industry gurus.
3. Add Value to Yourself
To make your business networking easier, you should aim to gain more knowledge and qualifications in areas where you could use some help. Try to gain a depth of knowledge of your focus area and get a breadth of learning in the areas related to your field. This will increase the value you bring to the table with a potential business connection and ultimately adds to your confidence in initiating contact.
This doesn’t make networking impossible for an entry-level potential. If you’re just starting on a profession, your greatest asset will be your appetite for learning. This will be most useful when trying to connect with more experienced professionals or those from other industries. If someone is confident that investing time in you is worthwhile, they’re more likely to do so.
Keeping abreast of the industry trends will also come in handy. It’ll help you stay relevant in your interactions and field, whether you are already an entrepreneur or trying to climb the corporate ladder.
4. Get Introduced By Someone In Their Circle
You’ll realize soon enough that in your business networking journey, nothing will beat a personal referral! The reception by the person you wish to meet will be much warmer if you’ve been referred by someone closer to and more trusted by them.
All you have to do is to stay close to the people you already know who are connected in some way to the people you want to meet. It’s up to you if you want to ask to be introduced or wait to eventually be in the same space with both of them and let the conversation grow organically.
5. Create A Follow Up Plan For Your Contacts
Losing contact with good business connections can happen if you’re not careful. Keeping in touch with all the contacts you’re getting over the years can be difficult if you’re not deliberate and intentional about it.
This is why you need to develop an easy-to-maintain plan to follow up with every valuable contact you have.
Create a schedule with reminders and notifications for making follow-ups. Your goal is to nurture the relationships you’ve started to make each connection as rewarding as possible for both parties.
Get Ready For The Next Level Of Your Networking Experience
No matter what field you’re in, you’ll need people to help you get to the next level. So, it’s a great idea to start spending time, interacting, and exposing yourself to the people in your field or outside it who can speed up your climb up the ladder. It doesn’t matter whether you build your network in person or via online platforms, as long as you keep the communication effective and consistent. While at it, make it enjoyable! Networking should be far from dreadful and taxing.