There is a skill of grandmothers that must be rescued and kept in mind in the business world. Which one? The art of weaving. A large part of professional success is weaving a network of quality contacts with whom information and resources can be shared. This ability is currently known as networking.
Networking is based on relationships of trust established in the professional field and with which a favorable work reputation is generated. These relationships are usually aimed at creating and developing mutually beneficial business opportunities.
Importance Of Networking In Business
Networking is becoming more and more relevant among professionals and entrepreneurs. A study conducted among professionals revealed that 52% of those surveyed had closed beneficial opportunities for their business through a networking event.
The same study highlights that 85% of job vacancies are obtained by people who use their networks of contacts.
In this sense, networking is a fundamental practice to obtain new job opportunities, receive investors for a venture, promote a product or service, or attract new clients.
However, the importance of networking does not stop there, and its practice can also be beneficial for:
- Increase the visibility and credibility of the professional profile.
- Get expert mentors that enhance your career.
- Learn new skills through the exchange of experiences.
- Make alliances or valuable collaborations to solve problems.
Through networking, you can achieve different goals. Setting strategies and goals helps to be clear about the type of relationships you want to establish.
There are three types of networking:
This is usually the most frequent, especially among entrepreneurs. It is aimed at people and to expand the network of contacts, and it is generally done with goals of growth and professional development. They are usually collaborative relationships in which competencies and social skills are displayed.
This type of networking lays the foundation for future business or strategic negotiations.
It has a clear and specific goal, so networking is done exclusively to achieve that goal efficiently.
It seeks to create relationships between suppliers, partners, buyers, who work in a coordinated and cooperative way, to carry out the processes successfully.
It is carried out internally in organizations to promote team performance.
It is done with a view to a future project for which the support of different interest groups is required. This type of networking seeks to create an extensive and diversified network of contacts that enhance business opportunities.
It is ideal for nurturing knowledge and ideas that help to face future challenges successfully.
It is already clear what networking is, why it is important, and what types of networking can be done. Now let’s move on to the practical part, to understand how a network of contacts can be built, especially in times of pandemic.
How to network effectively?
Previously, there was only one successful way to network: face-to-face contact. Nowadays, that is still one of the ways to do it. However, social networks and the digital boom have given way to online networking.
Let’s define one by one:
It is traditional networking and requires attendance. It is usually done at physical events and involves face-to-face interaction with people. This relationship was very common in seminars, congresses, business lunches, coworking, conferences, or special events.
It is also known as digital networking and has gained a lot of strength with the pandemic. In this case, the interaction is done virtually through platforms such as social networks, online events, blogs, forums and virtual MBAs.
Online Networking and Offline Networking: Differences
Each way of networking has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, with online networking, it is possible to generate a larger network of contacts without much effort, for which it can become more efficient.
On the other hand, in terms of efficiency, offline networking is ahead since a relationship of trust, and a stronger bond is generated in less time.
In offline networking, it is easier to capture people’s attention. For their part, messages on social networks or email can be easily discarded or ignored.
However, online networking requires fewer resources and efforts since it is not necessary to mobilize or have great social skills.
Making a mix between the best online and offline networking allows you to weave a network of quality contacts quickly, easily and effectively.
Networking Online: 5 Keys That You Must Take Into Account
Online networking is complementary to offline. However, digital is newer, and it may present some barriers or difficulties when implementing it. Before starting to weave a network of contacts in the online world, it is important to take into account:
- Online networking is global. There are no borders; it is possible to access people from all over the world.
- It is segmentable. People’s information in their social network profiles allows for greater clarity about their profession, experience, where they work if they have contacts in common, geographical location, to which sector they belong, or any other relevant variable. In this way, it is possible to be more organized and focused on the objectives, to focus the strategy on connecting with people who fit a certain profile.
- Precisely from the ability to segment, the following learning is extracted: expand the range of action. A very common mistake when networking is to focus only on industry leaders. Networking with others who are not decision-makers but who have influence or specific skills of interest is also important. Online networking makes it easier to identify and contact them.
- Take care of what your social profiles say about you. It is important to convey a trustworthy image in both online and physical networking and avoid a perception that is not in line with reality. However, it can become easier to give the wrong impression through images or inappropriate use of language in the digital realm.
- For those who are not frequent users of the main online networking platforms, it is important to take some time to get to know them, adapt and understand the codes of each one.
Networking With Strategy
The digital world has given people new ways of interacting and relating, and this must be taken into account when doing online and physical networking. In this sense, it is important to set a clear and measurable objective, as well as a strategy that takes into account the following aspects:
Knowledge Is Power
Indeed, online networking does not require as many social skills as offline. However, it is important to take advantage of the information provided by social profiles to get to know the person before establishing contact. Understanding their likes, pain points, interests, and experiences helps establish common ground. In this way, it will be easier to manage the conversation and empathize from the first moment.
Go From Online To Offline Networking And Vice Versa.
A fundamental pillar of networking is cultivating lasting relationships over time; it is also important to establish a strategy for maintaining the relationship.
At this point, what was said above is most evident: online and offline networking complement each other. It is good practice to bring a contact made through a digital medium into the physical world if circumstances allow.
The same happens if contact was made in person: the relationship can be cultivated online, with regular contacts on digital platforms.
Prepare a Value Proposition.
In offline networking, there is a lot of talk about the elevator pitch, which is nothing more than a captivating, agile and fast presentation speech. It is also important to adopt a high-impact presentation sentence for online networking, which piques people’s interest and makes them want to connect and continue the conversation.
Networking must be beneficial for all parties; For this reason, it is recommended to start the contact by saying the value proposition and how it is offered.
Also Read: Difference Between a Virtual Office and Physical Office
Places To Network Online
With the pandemic and the strengthening of digital platforms, online networking is gaining ground, and more spaces are opening up to create a network of professional contacts.
It is the social network par excellence for networking. Having a complete and updated profile is the most important thing. This profile must generate trust and credibility, be close, and at the same time, look very professional and competent.
LinkedIn is also the ideal place to share information and work on your brand. When it comes to networking, it is recommended to establish connections with acquaintances, such as university classmates and colleagues. Subsequently, contact people of interest according to the proposed professional objective.
It is a more familiar social network, and however, it is also a great place to network online. Unlike LinkedIn, the trick is not to expand your list of friends here. On Facebook, the objective is concentrated on the Groups.
Facebook Groups are generally closed or private spaces where people with similar interests come together. Finding those related to the professional objective will be an important source of business ideas and social relationships with people who share a common theme.
Many physical events have moved into the virtual world, replicating much of the experience. In this sense, these events have found ingenious ways to enable people to interact, meet and generate a network of contacts.
Before going to an event, online or physically, it is important to ensure that among the attendees, there will be people with a professional profile aligned with the proposed networking strategy.
Some of the most used online events for digital networking are webinars, congresses, seminars, meetings organized by chambers of commerce, associations or federations, specialized events, conferences, presentations and workshops.
MBAs And Masters
An MBA has been another networking space par excellence, especially in business schools where training has a more practical focus. These spaces have also been replicated in the online world. Institutions have created virtual campuses with forums or live teleconferences, which allow students to interact and generate professional contacts.
Are Business Cards Necessary For Online And Offline Networking?
Business cards were a must in networking. Part of the ritual of building a network of contacts was the exchange of business cards.
With the rise of online networking, these habits have been transformed and adapted to the new digital dynamics.
Digital business cards, in addition to being more environmentally responsible, are also more versatile. Another great advantage is that they allow quick access to the main profiles and digital resources you want to access.
Digital business cards are not only limited to online networking, and they have also been adopted to be used at face-to-face events. They’ve gained popularity. They help reduce costs, often sync directly with your address book, and facilitate effective communication because they’re less likely to get lost.
However, physical business cards are a classic that has not entirely disappeared.
Networking is an art within social relations; it’s good execution can open many doors to achieve professional success. Taking advantage of digitalization erases borders and allows us to be much more efficient. However, it is important to maintain the good practices learned from offline networking to be truly effective.