Have you got a networking strategy?

Never underestimate the power of networking when it comes to business.

Professional networking is not just about swapping business cards or gathering a list of connections on LinkedIn, it is a crucial part of your business strategy – and if it isn’t, it should be.

Heather White, founder of Smarter Networking, who coaches on getting the most from professional networking, noted from her own research of networkers that ‘90 per cent of their new business comes from word-of-mouth recommendation, referrals and direct networking’.

White also noted that being well-connected will give you an edge over your competition because you have an established relationship with them.

Networking and growing business connections is something we believe matters and is something we proactively promote at The Base, through our own platform BaseConnect.

Building a strong feeling of community is the essence of BaseConnect and we look to do this in a number of ways. One way is to provide access to all members of the platform, with a simple ‘find and connect’ option.

Also popular are The Base Business Events. Aside from having engaging and informative speakers, the real purpose is to bring people together to talk and network and make those connections that could make the difference to your business.

The Base Business Events are a good starting point for your networking strategy rather than adopting an ad hoc approach, which is what many do.

Andrew Hennigan, author of Payforward Networking, says: “Networking is a deliberate activity to build, reinforce and maintain relationships of trust with other people to further your goals. Professional networking is simply networking focused on professional goals.”

With this in mind, your networking strategy needs to have goals that may be for your business or your individual benefit. Common goals include:

  • Securing new leads
  • Increasing profits
  • Increasing connections to support your wider business goals
  • Enhancing your knowledge through other businesses
  • Greater market insight
  • Discovering new business opportunities
  • Finding new employees
  • Promoting yourself as a thought leader
  • Raising your profile
  • Marketing your skills
  • Seeking employment opportunities

By identifying your goals, you will be able to determine how much networking time you dedicate to each one. It will also ensure you have a targeted approach when networking and won’t blindly market your business or just deliver a sales pitch, which is not the approach to take.

As with any strategy it can be a challenge where to start, however, White has a developed four-step plan to achieve this:

  • Identify your reasons for networking – including importance on a scale 1-10
  • Establish how many contacts you need
  • Identify the people to network with – could be job roles, businesses, member organisations
  • Review and take action

With networking opportunities always on the horizon, there is no time to waste in developing your strategy and we look forward to seeing it implemented here at The Base.

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