Developing relationships in business networks

The ability to develop relationships and thereby build a strong network is an essential skill for any business leader, yet it is also one of the most neglected. As human beings, we all possess the basic skills to communicate but many people struggle when it comes to applying these skills in a business environment. It can feel unnatural or even intimidating, but with the right guidance and sufficient practice, it does not have to be either.

The importance of networking

The phrase “it is not what you know, but who you know” is something of an overused cliché, but it does represent a true philosophy. Effective networking is absolutely critical for any individual, and indeed any business, wishing to be successful in a competitive market.

The aim of networking is to facilitate the following.

 

  • New contacts – Websites, adverts, posters and other such media have their place, but nothing makes a more powerful first impression than meeting someone in person. Networking allows for meeting new people with common interests and who may potentially represent future business opportunities. 
  • Recommendations – Similarly, while someone may recommend a website, they are far more likely to remember the impression an individual made on them in person. Rapport can be built and so much more said simply by having a friendly conversation. Far more recommendations are likely to be received as a result.

 

  • Maintaining existing relationships – It is crucial to not neglect existing clients and one of the best ways of making someone feel special and valued is to give them your time. Quite simply, a meeting in person is much more likely to achieve this than an email.

The business world’s most successful individuals, such as Francesco Corallo as a prime example, understand all of this and ensure that networking is a major feature in their day to day activities.

Ways of networking

There are many different ways of networking, each with their advantages and disadvantages. The right one to apply at any time depends on the details of the situation, but here are a few of the most popular:

 

  • Industry-specific networking events –Perhaps the most obvious choice and also the least intimidating as everyone will be there for the same reason. Instigating conversation is therefore easy, as is finding common ground on which to base discussion. 
  • One-to-one contact – Many of us network informally without even realising we are doing so. Ensuring you are regularly talking to your existing contacts, and aiming to do the same with new ones, might seem like a chore at first but is basic good business practice and will in time become a habit. 
  • Ad hoc opportunities – Sometimes we find ourselves in the perfect situation to create or improve a relationship and must act quickly and decisively to capitalise on the moment, however unprepared we might be. The best opportunities can present themselves in the most unlikely times and places so it pays to always be prepared.

An essential part of the business tool-kit

Effective networking and relationship-building are essential tools in any successful business leader’s tool-kit and, like all tools, they must be kept sharp through ongoing attention. The right training, guidance and support, combined with regular use, will help ensure this is the case.

Posted by on Jun 27 2014. Filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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