Building a reputable business network is key a key determinant of success for small businesses because people prefer to do business with people they know, like and trust rather than a complete stranger.
Today, successful business development is contingent upon building trusted relationships and leveraging those relationships to meet new prospects that could end-up driving revenue growth. It is vital that you continuously grow and nurture these relationships, as a large percentage of your business growth will come from your business network.
Business networking is an effective low-cost marketing method for developing sales opportunities and contacts, based on referrals and introductions either face-to-face at meetings and gatherings, or by other contact methods such as phone, email, and increasingly social and business networking websites.
Here are five of the most important networking tips and build and grow your small business network.
1. BE SOCIAL.
Grow your business network by using social media sites and apps, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and online networking communities. However, before you jump into social media, you need to fully understand the medium, how it works, and how you can use it to benefit your business.
LinkedIn is a great place to start and grow your business network. Twitter is a microblogging site that will complement your blog. Facebook is a place to build an online community around your small business.
2. BE HELPFUL.
Always prioritise helping and giving to others ahead of taking and receiving for yourself. When you help people in your network get stronger, you get stronger.
Always be willing to share your expertise and ideas. Promote your network’s work and accomplishments. Be a connector. Business transactions are always mutually beneficial. One person is buying a product or service because it will benefit them in some way, and one person is selling a product or service because they can profit.
3. BUILD A REPUTATION.
Building trust and reputation are essential for growing a strong business network. Lack of trust prevents successful business networking. Certain connections are absolutely impossible to make until a very high level of trust and reputation is established.
In a professional setting, people prefer to build business relationships with people they see as being valuable. By building a reputation as someone who is talented, helpful, and valuable, people will be more motivated to meet you and stay in touch with you. Let people know what you’re accomplishing and learning through blogging, emails, and conversations.
4. THINK LONG-TERM.
The longer the relationships you build, the more valuable they become. Hence, it is important not to be too desperate and quick to seek results when building a relationship.
Connections open doors, but relationships close deals. Networking is not just about exchanging business cards and connecting on LinkedIn. Networking is most valuable when long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships are formed. Relationships take time to build. Be patient. Stay in touch with people you like.
5. FOLLOW UP.
There are two main reasons for the importance of following up: 1) Networking only produces good results when it is followed up. 2) Following up with contacts builds trust, reputation, and relationships.
Build a reputation as someone who delivers on their promises and is persistent. Follow up with people who promised to do something for you or vice-versa. Follow up on emails you send that get ignored. Do what you promised to do for others.
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