For many years, research has shown that networking with other businesses is an integral factor in companies’ success across a wide range of industries. Working with other companies in your industry is one of the best ways to gain new customers through referrals and build both working relationships and trust with other industry experts. Discussing the merits of new technologies with other businesses is also a great way to grow your company by building on the work of others—or learning from their mistakes in some cases. Here are just a few reasons that networking is your company’s lifeline:
Ideal People to Have in Your Network
While the specific people and businesses to include in your network will depend on your business type and industry, the most useful networking people typically include the following:
- Clients with a medium-to-high level of technical expertise
- Smaller industry partners with specialized knowledge of local and industry-wide conditions
- Companies that have formal research and development capabilities
- Universities and specific university departments that are increasing their examination of science, technology, and innovation
How to Build Effective Networking Relationships
In most cases, effective networking relationships are those that involve the mutual benefit of sharing information or expertise. Here are a few ways you can help build and nurture these types of relationships:
- Build relationships with manufacturers that supply your industry, since these businesses are likely to make good partners because of their involvement in research and development programs.
- Remember that effective networking is more about “farming” than “hunting,” since your goal should be to build long-lasting relationships with other professionals.
- Keep in mind that you must give value to receive value, since the purpose of networking is to create relationships that benefit everyone involved. The more you offer to network partners, the more they are likely to give to you.
When it comes to enhancing your business through networking, it is important to remember that networking is not just about what you want to achieve, but also about letting your fellow networkers know that you want to support their successes in turn. Additionally, remember that the more time and energy you invest in helping your network partners, the more likely they are to help you develop a solid referral base.