Basics of Business Networking – Part Two

Social Networking.

Networking strategies include using the social networks to build relationships. There are many networks and tools one can use to share ideas, media and information with others.

Such networks, of course, include Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter and a recent addition, mosaicHUB.

These networks give one the opportunity to strut one’s stuff, as it were. Create a personal profile, form up or join groups and interact with one’s peers. This is just the ground work however and the basis to develop and form relationships with others that enhance your brand or company’s reputation through the interaction with others.

In addition, the advertising on such sites can be very powerful and worthwhile checking out.

The social networking strategy you use will depend largely on the type of company you have, your resources in terms of time and finance, how you represent your company, your marketing strategy and what you have to offer to others that they may be interested in.

Your social networking strategy could be as simple as maintaining a blog and interacting with a reader base through comments and replies to discuss articles and ideas. Or it could be simply maintaining a Facebook page for your business. It might be a planned campaign using all the social media available including advertising to back up and increase your presence on line. Importantly, whichever strategy your business employs, it is vitally important that is conducted professionally and managed in the same professional manner any other aspect of your wider communications strategy would be.

Social Media Contacts
It has been said that we are only a few steps from knowing basically everyone on the planet and everyone you know and do not k now is connected to you in some way.

Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. It was originally set out by Frigyes Karinthy and popularized by a play written by John Guare.

This is the basic theory behind all social and business networking. And with the various networks now available throughout the world this is indeed very possible.

The importance of this emphasises the fact that one cannot achieve anything without the cooperation of others, whether, clients, customers, employees, employers, friends, acquaintances or even, in some cases, competitors.

Emphasizing that point is the fact that it usually takes a team to achieve a goal or purpose and having a wide and solid network of contacts will make a big difference to your overall expansion.

But networking is not just the province of the social networks through a computer. There are associations and clubs one can join. Meeting people in daily life, such as in a bar or restaurant, a plane or social gatheri9ng, are all potential situations to meeting new people. It should also be mentioned that attending networking events will give you a greater opportunity to practice your skills in a controlled environment, where networking is encouraged and expected.

I know one person who built a business simply by sitting in chairs in a shopping mall and talking to people. His target was to talk to ten people a day about his business. He said that only one person in ten showed any interest and few of those took it any further. But he persevered and continued to talk to ten people a day come what may. He now has, after about two years, business worth many thousands and with hundreds of people working for him in a multi-level marketing business selling one product only.

The broader the diversity and source of your networks, the wider the range of different types of contacts you will make. This will help to improve the development of contacts and relationships that can help you in a number of ways and not just providing a single source of benefit for your business.

Of course, the more contacts you make, the more you will enjoy the benefits of networking such as:

Word-of-mouth advertising
An improvement in your business performance and products
A boost in your reputation
Establishment of staff exchanges
The help and assistance available through professional networking allows you to meet with other business owners that have faced similar problems in the past
And, importantly, reliable contacts. Professional networking allows you to establish relationships with businesses that could be helpful when you need a particular service in the future

Professional networks and associations
Professional networks and associations which have a diversity of people are likely the best rather than all the same profession. If one is an accountant, for example, although there are advantages to being a member of an accounting association, it is hardly the place to develop new relationships with others with a few to enhancing ones business. Better a Chamber of Commerce or a group that has a diversity of other professions that opens the door to further opportunities.

Researching the options available is a first step. Evaluating which associations or groups, forums etc., align more closely with your goals and objectives in networking would be another step. Attending various meetings and conferences on a subject enables you to focus on changes and advances within that industry and offers the chance to meet others and establish more professional networks.

Social networks include, Facebook, LinkedIn, Meettheboss, PartnerUp, Qapacity, and Ryze, XING or mosaicHUB. There are many others also and all provide the opportunity of staying in contact with people you have already developed or know as well as extending your reach to other contacts.

Networking groups are designed specifically with networking in mind for its members. One goes to a networking group meeting with a bunch of cards in hand specifically to meet more people. Others are doing the same there of course and many relationships and struck up at such meetings. Many associations will hold network meetings. The Australian Institute of Company Directors for example, where one can meet other professionals from a variety of industries and professions.

Professional associations can raise the profile of a particular profession or industry group and provide continuing professional education for their members. The larger associations, such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, have their own premises for industry events and training. Many professional associations will also allow reduced membership fees for students, and there are even some associations that provide free memberships. You can often attend events as a visitor before deciding to join.

Professional associations generally offer Networking events, Job boards, Seminars, Conferences, Web resources, Leadership opportunities, E-newsletters and Mentoring. By becoming an active member of a professional association, you have the opportunity of networking with enthusiastic professionals, including prospective future clients or employers. The benefits of professional networking groups include gaining more business and this can be worth the cost of membership alone. It is also an opportunity to hone ones people skills and learn more about people and their professionals and expand ones knowledge.

In The Basics of Business Networking – Part Three we will look at some further basics of Busienss Networking in greater detail.