The term “networking” is frequently tossed around the business world. It is easy to talk about networking, but implementing it is another matter, particularly when you have to go beyond the confines of the workplace. Fortunately, you will improve your networking skills when you create a solid network and position yourself for success. Networking outside of your company takes time and energy, but the reward is certainly worth the effort.
Create a Solid Network
Creating a solid network requires you to make connections. It is not enough to simply meet people; you need to meet the right people, people who are likely to develop a professional relationship with you. This requires you to search for connections carefully.
Where to find possible connections:
- Referrals: Ask friends, peers, or family to introduce you to like-minded people. You never know who you might meet.
- Join groups: Professional societies offer numerous opportunities to meet new people and make connections.
- Attend events: Networking events can be intimidating, but they are essential. You may not make useful connections at every event, but you will not make any connections staying home.
Meet Strategic Alliance Partners
Strategic alliance partners are made when two companies work together on a joint venture. The partnership may be formal or informal. When two separate businesses begin to work together, however, tension is inevitable. This is why you need to carefully screen potential strategic alliance partners.
This is where networking is indispensable. Since strategic alliance partners need a mutually beneficial working relationship, so you need to get to know your partners ahead of time. You may choose to partner with someone you already know or work with someone new. There are strategic alliance partner networking groups to help you make valuable connections. Like any connection, you need to consider the characteristic that you need in a partnership before you look for one. What strengths do you need to see? Build relationships and make a list of contacts you would be interested in partnering with in the future, and meet with them to assess interest.
Networking is invaluable when it comes to generating business leads. People are always more comfortable doing business with individuals they know and trust. You can generate leads from networking events as well as from social networking sites. We will go into more detail about the methods later. Networking to generate leads is time consuming, but it is very effective.
When using networking to generate leads, your focus should be on offering value and selling yourself. Meet with different prospects. After meeting individuals who may become leads, follow-up and connect with them. As you build relationships, you will develop new leads.
Networking can be used to help you position yourself in your industry. People will contact you once you build a reputation as a reliable expert. Your reputation will develop as people in your network share your strengths as well as the strengths of your company. For example, your network may share an expert article that you write. As the article is shared, you will gain exposure, and your reputation will grow.