Do’s and Don’ts of Business Networking
What is business networking?
Business networking is the building of relationships with others in the industry who may be helpful to your business. These can comprise potential suppliers, investors, clients, other business owners and even fellow competitors. You can network through face-to-face or virtual networking events, local business lunches or by joining networking groups and professional associations.
Benefits of business networking
Business networking is usually a reciprocal or mutually beneficial give-and-take process where you offer something in exchange for advice, knowledge, services or contacts. Good networking requires time and its benefits are not always tangible. But there are numerous reasons why you should connect with others, particularly for new start-ups, to create awareness and gain market exposure and visibility.
Benefits of business networking include:
Opportunities: Networking sessions are excellent avenues for finding potential partnerships, joint ventures, or new areas of expansion for your business.
Connections: You could meet people who are able to help you (like mentors or experts) or potential clients.
Knowledge: You can get updated on the latest trends or technology in the industry and learn from the experiences of others.
Goodwill: People are more willing to do business with those they have a relationship with.
Support: Having a circle of likeminded people can be an invaluable source for support, advice and inspiration.
The do’s and don’ts of business networking
For a business networking session to go well, you need to do a bit of homework first. This could involve choosing the right networking group to join or event to attend, or perfecting a 30- to 60-second business pitch. Here are more tips on how to ace that networking session:
|Do build up your digital presence. Use social media platforms, such as LinkedIn and Instagram, to create a digital presence and make connections with others.
||Don’t be indiscreet with social media content. Be professional and avoid posting offensive or sensitive content that could cause embarrassment to others or yourself.
|Do approach people at events. Be respectful. Ask engaging and open-ended questions to build rapport.
||Don’t be pushy. You can come across as rude and overbearing if you are too persistent or aggressive in trying to make a connection.
|Do talk and listen. Be genuine and authentic in your interactions. Make eye-contact, be attentive and ask meaningful follow-up questions.
||Don’t be transactional. Don’t start by asking what the other person can do for you. You also should not monopolise the entire conversation.
|Do bring value. Go to the event with a giving mindset. Be prepared to offer something: a possible contact, lead, or advice. This will foster trust and make it more likely to be offered help in the future.
||Don’t go to events unprepared. Set a goal and know what you need to do to achieve it, such as studying the background of the people you want to meet or bringing along your product samples.
|Do make notes. After a conversation, jot down some notes such as the person’s contact details and what was discussed in case you need to follow up.
||Don’t neglect contacts. Once you have established contact, keep in touch (e.g. on social media) and follow-through on commitments made.
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Forbes. “14 Professional Tips for Networking During a Pandemic”. Forbes. January 6, 2021. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2021/01/06/14-professional-tips-for-networking-during-a-pandemic/
Indeed Career Guide. “What is Business Networking? With Tips to Succeed”. Posted July 23, 2021. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/business-networking
MyCareersFuture. “10 Tips for Effective Networking in Person, or Online”. Accessed September 27, 2021. https://content.mycareersfuture.gov.sg/the-benefits-of-networking-in-person-and-online/
Ward, Susan. “What is Business Networking?”. Updated January 18, 2021. https://www.thebalancesmb.com/what-is-business-networking-and-what-are-the-benefits-2947183
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