Ratish Pandey, Founder of Ethique Advisory, has 35+ years of corporate experience in India and overseas in senior management roles, across multi-national companies. Skilled in a multitude of areas such as business strategy, setting up and developing profitable businesses, team mentoring, and business transformation, Ratish has handled diverse aspects of a business successfully and won accolades. He has had the good fortune of working successfully with teams from varied backgrounds and cultures.
Want to build brand equity?
Want to increase business without spending huge advertising dollars? Want to stand out of the crowd and have brand ambassadors as salespeople?
Well, one tool that delivers on all these and more is business networking.
Today, with several networking tools available, one would think it is easy to create a network. Business networking is not about the number of connections on LinkedIn or the number of followers on Facebook or the number of visiting cards one collects at an event but is about building relationships. Professional Relationships that sustain and hence take time & effort. But, time well invested.
What exactly is business networking, how does it help?
Everyone you connect with and engage with forms your network. Each one of them has the potential to provide you with notable professional support or guidance. Your network can include a wide range of people, such as:
- Co-workers \Friends of Family \Friends of Friends
- Professors or classmates
- Professionals in your field
- Customers or clients
- Professionals outside your field
A well-nurtured network has the potential to bring you business if you are a business person or job leads, growth prospects, and personal development opportunities if you are an individual pursuing a career.
For professional success, it is imperative to understand the value of business networking.
Seeking out opportunities to grow your network and nurture it is a habit one should instil.
How do you go about establishing and maintaining your network?
There are prospective contacts everywhere.
Be aware of your surroundings, people you meet, stay vigilant, take time to establish a connection with people you meet.
Place of work is the first place to start. Are there people who can teach you a skill, mentor you or have a network that could open new doors of opportunity for you?
Connect and engage with them make them a part of your network.
Networking events like business luncheons, award functions etc., provide an opportunity to meet people across industries, including your own. The purpose of these gatherings is to get people across disciplines or verticals together with an underlying commonality to promote new thoughts and practices and learn from one another. They provide a wonderful platform to network, engage in discussions and make sustainable connections.
Despite the invasion of Digital media in our lives, nothing replaces the effectiveness of face-to-face in-person meetings that these events allow.
Keep an eye out for signs that someone could help your company, or where you may have something to offer. Look out for opportunities for collaborations that are potentially mutually beneficial.
Exploit the power of social media to sustain the connections you have made. Use social media to stay tuned to the developments in the lives of your contacts. Engage with them to build meaningful relationships.
Wondering how Business Networking differs from other networking?
The motive for forming commercial partnerships is economic motivation. Shared interests and or emotional connect forms the basis of personal relationships. Whereas, Business connections are, based on reciprocal or at least one-sided benefits.
Another distinction between business and personal networking appears to be in terms of functionality targeted toward various goals. To achieve either goal of shared personal interests or business transactions, you must make choices that lead you to it. Socialising events or platforms present us with opportunities to utilise as per our purpose – personal or professional.
The effectiveness of the networking platform lies in the “purpose” rather than the “platform”.
Whether online or offline, business social networking aims to get individuals together who can benefit from association with each other. Personal relationships to evolve from business ones is an often quoted occurrence.
Benefits of business networking
As a businessman or a C-Suite executive, it can get pretty lonely at the top. Often one gets swamped by issues and challenges. Business networking provides an opportunity to connect with people in similar situations or who have been in similar situations but sailed through them successfully.
Meeting upbeat and optimistic businesspeople can add a fresh wind under your sails. Connecting with them, learning from their mistakes, getting an unbiased perspective on your issues, are a few benefits of business networking.
Your flight is defined by the company you keep. If you surround yourself with people who share your passion, desire and ambition the higher you are likely to fly.
This is just the beginning. There is a lot more, that business networking offers you. Let’s take a look
- Shared Knowledge
Networking implies engaging with a diverse range of professionals across backgrounds. Provides an opportunity to learn and provide your unique perspective. Collaboration (or simply just conversing) may lead to new ideas, insights, and more.
- Enhanced confidence
If not an extrovert attending a networking event would mean being out of your comfort zone. Attending an event and being forced to participate would help you gain confidence in presenting your skills, public speaking, and feeling more confident in what you offer.
Regular networking will boost your confidence, opening new doors for you as your reluctance to engage with new people reduces. The start of the transformation to become a business owner who effectively communicates and makes connections to expand the business.
- Windows of Opportunity
Opportunities are a given when we speak about Business networking. The key is to be able to recognize it and grab it. Look out for referrals, sniff out the potential requirement of your product or service, mutually beneficial partnerships.
- It gives you a stronger support network
Remember, your networking is not limited to the folks in the room; it extends to their extended networks outside of the room. If you connect well with them, they would have you on the top of the mind to refer to when someone in another network is seeking a service or product you offer.
It is a 2-way street if you have people in your network referring you, you have to return the favour. Gestures such as this help cement relationships and build trust.
When chips are down, this is the network that will help you ride the tide if the relationships built are on a sound footing.
- Increasing your Presence
Business Networking, if done right, helps build credibility. The more visible you are and authentic in what you bring to the table higher is the trust built. If you engage positively through meaningful ways, people value your opinion, seek it, making you an influential member of the network.
Over a period, you build an image as a competent, trustworthy, and supportive entrepreneur with top of the mind recall.
- It can open you up to industry influencers
Business Networking events can provide an opportunity to rub shoulders with the Industry Who’s Who. If you pick your networking events well, you can get excellent opportunities to meet and network with influential individuals.
All said and done, networking efforts have to be sincere and genuine to taste success. Although not every connection will lead to a business partnership, each one has the potential to teach you something. If you approach networking with this perspective, it will be a fun and rewarding experience that will surely, lead to personal development.