“Networking is marketing. Marketing yourself, marketing your uniqueness, marketing what you stand for.” -Christine Comaford-Lynch
What is the purpose of networking? How can it benefit you and your business? Networking is a simple, yet effective, tool that anyone can use to create a more successful environment for their business. According to the Business Dictionary, networking is defined as “creating a group of acquaintances and associates and keeping it active through regular communication for mutual benefit. Networking is based on the question, ‘How can I help?’ and not with ‘What can I get?’” There are different ways to network, such as social networking and online networking, but how can you use this to your advantage?
Where should you network?
It is important to look at any situation you’re in as a networking possibility—don’t solely limit this to the time you’re at work. By reaching out to people wherever you are, you give yourself the opportunity to expand your circle and learn. By networking outside your “niche” as well, you develop connections that can connect you to potential clients or customers. Online networking is also a relatively new tool that allows business professionals to connect, without truly “connecting” in person. Take the online platform LinkedIn for example. As of October 2016, there was a total of 467 million users on LinkedIn—that is a lot of potential contacts, employers, clients, and colleagues.
How can you network?
There are many different ways one can network—you may know the individual personally, or you may even just know of them. Beson4’s CEO, AJ Beson, consistently uses the online platform LinkedIn to network with individuals and companies he sees as potential clients or colleagues. Add business professionals on LinkedIn that you could see as a good connection to have, and shoot them a quick message introducing yourself. You’d be surprised at how this can be so beneficial and crucial to expanding your professional network.
Why should you network?
Why should you invest your time in networking? It’s simple: it not only will benefit a potential client, but it will benefit for you and your company as well. Networking can deliver more return on investment than any other tool used in a business. It can bring about opportunities for you, or your business, that may not have risen had you not networked. Not networking leads to a lack of opportunities, and bad networking (or no networking at all) can lead to a bad reputation—not only for you, but for your company as well.
Overall, networking can lead to major successes for your company and for yourself individually. With such a global online community at our fingertips, networking with others is easier than ever. What are you waiting for?