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How to maximize business networking

groupofmenatlunch30338711.jpgOne of the most tools in the business owner's arsenal is the ability to network. Business networking is defined as the process of meeting other people and exchanging resources for mutual gain. Business networking often forms the basis of business relationships. Many different kinds of businesses rely heavily upon effective networking practices to win important investors, customers and partners. It is important to remember that your ability to network well is one of the factors that may not only differentiate your business but also ensure its survival. The good news is that it has never been easier to network so here is what you should know about how to maximize business networking-

  • Make a great first impression-It is important to remember that first impressions are often about presentation. At face-to-face events, you need to dress well, polish how you speak, make eye contact and generally present yourself to impress others with your professionalism and charisma.
  • Seek to interact not overwhelm-You should remember that if you approach business networking solely as an opportunity to talk about yourself and your business, you will bore people. You can make networking more enjoyable by strategically limiting how much (and how repetitively) you talk and by increasing your chances to listen to and interact with the business networking group.
  • Network everywhere you can-While traditional networking takes place in physical locations, in this age of social networking websites a lot of networking takes place online. You need to be aware that opportunities to network span several media; so you should take advantage of all of them.
  • Be diligent in networking-You should be both selective and diligent where you choose to network. There are literally thousands of official networking events that take place every day, and the Internet offers access to millions more. However, unfortunately, the availability of all of these opportunities leads some business professionals to take a shotgun approach to networking - which then results in the failure to pay sufficient attention to any one opportunity. You should identify and act on the highest-value opportunities rather than pitching to every possible audience. Then by narrowing down opportunities it will allow you to focus more.
  • Do not forget about family and friends-You can look to your existing social networking groups to enhance business opportunities. There is a very good chance that your family and friends already know plenty of people who could help you in some way. Keep in mind that connecting to these people can be easier than pitching yourself to complete strangers.
  • Network to the center of influence-When you are networking it is important to find the key person who can really be of help to you. Your business networking efforts should focus on this individual. This will be the person who can help you make your business even more successful.
  • Help along the way-While your ultimate goal may be to find investors or customers or to otherwise improve your own business chances and conditions, you should keep in mind that you are also in a position to help others. You can offer whatever resources you can (advice, contacts, support, partnership or investment) in order to increase your value to the business network. This kind of enlightened altruism will eventually rebound to your advantage.
  • Take an unconscious approach-Many experts recommend that the best way to network is to be unconscious of the fact that you are networking. Try not to let your mind dwell on the purpose or mechanics of networking. Just lose yourself in the moment. That is the kind of approach you should bring to business networking.
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