Speak to many people in business these days and they’ll tell you that networking is essential. I’ve been attending many types of networking events over the years, and they seem to have increased in both popularity and quality recently. If you want to get into the business networking scene, I’ve listed a number of benefits for doing so, as well as suggestions about where and how you can get involved. I hope you’ll find my recommendations helpful…
Why should you network?
New career opportunities
Meet recruiters, managers and HR team members who are looking to recruit. Whether you’re searching for trainee logistics jobs or a senior management role at a media agency, there’s likely to be someone who knows someone who is looking to fill that very position. This is a good reason why you should be on your best behaviour at a networking event: don’t drink too much, wear smart clothes, and carry business cards around with you.
Meet the competition
If you are on the management team, you should get out there and meet your competition. You know what they say about keeping your enemies close… However it can be beneficial to work with competitors on an issue that affects the whole industry, so even though you’re fighting for the same customers, you still care about the same things.
You see this in the technology industry quite a lot; businesses like to get pieces of software to work together for the benefit of the industry. This can be everything from web analytics to order management systems. Sometimes the best way to share your ideas is face-to-face.
Once you start to become recognised at networking events, you can guarantee you’ll start receiving invites for more exclusive breakfasts, dinners and parties. These events have all the major movers and shakers in the industry, so getting your foot in the door can be a great privilege – as well as being very useful for the future.
In the meantime, you can focus your attention on finding suppliers and contractors who could be of great help to your business. From finding the best PR agency for a start-up to figuring out who is best to supply your office with fresh fruit, you’ll be surprised about just how much you can get done at a networking event. Recommendations really are vital for business!
Where can you network?
Head to an industry conference to meet thought leaders and novices alike. You’ll be able to learn plenty from the seminars, but the breakout areas are the best places to meet and greet. There will often be a post-conference event in the evening which is a good networking space too.
Go from stand to stand to meet companies in a similar space to yours. Exchange business cards and follow up with them by email when you get back to the office. Also be sure to check out the coffee area which is where a lot of people mill about.
Check your local business listings to find a breakfast that would be the best suited to your industry and position. You might want to try a number of these before you pick one to attend on a regular basis.
Finally don’t forget about social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn. They can be essential for putting names to faces and staying up to date with what everyone is getting up to.