"Hi, Hello, How are you?"- For Annette Thompson, it took only a few seconds to start a conversation with almost anyone she came across.
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These conversations would usually end with the exchange of business cards or phone numbers. Soon, when Annette started her own boutique, most of her first customers included the people whom she had befriended on her numerous encounters.
This is a very simple example of what is known in today's business world as business networking.
Networking is all about making connections with people so as to build enduring and mutually beneficial relationships.
Advantages of Business Networking
Be it for social or business purposes, networking has its own advantages:
- It ensures you meet the right people to include in your network so that you expand your sphere of influence.
- You can promote your products and services on a very personal level. Such relationships enable you to stand out and rise above the ruckus created by advertisements, emails and random sales pitches. It adds more trust and credibility to what you have to offer.
- Most importantly, it helps you to tap into a wider business group where you can share business ideas and opportunities. Who knows, you may end up meeting prospective leads, clients, efficient employees or even a mentor or business partner.
How to Network in Business
There are different ways to start networking -- the easiest of them being to join some network clubs and sites.
Some of the notable sites for business networking include LinkedIn, Ryze, MySpace, and WisdomBuilder.
There are many physical clubs as well, like ecademy and The Business Network Club, which provide opportunities for business professionals to get together and share their knowledge and experiences.
Whatever your mode of networking, keep in mind that the key to building a powerful personal network is diversity.
Do not restrict yourself to networks exclusively for people from similar backgrounds or in a similar line of business. Widen your network as much as possible because you never know who knows who.
Also keep in touch with the members in your network constantly, and not just when you need help. Ultimately, remember that it is not about whom you know, but who knows you, that make the difference.