For many years, the benefits of networking have been well-known throughout the business community but what is networking, and how do you go about developing a network?
What is networking?
A network is a group of individuals or businesses that have communications with each other. This is not to say that they are always in communication with each other, rather, they have the ability to talk to each other when they need to. Individuals that have built good quality networks should also have strong relationships with a number of individuals who they can share information and build opportunities with.
Why is networking important?
Both individuals and businesses spend a great deal of time and money trying to communicate their messages to others. An effective network can dramatically increase the return on business investment through rapid and robust business opportunities. The age-old adage of, “who you know, not what you know”, still holds as true today as it has always done!
The truth is, we all network - although some do it more effectively than others. We're all presented with opportunities to meet those within our social networks, but it really depends on whether we capture and leverage those opportunities, and invest in the networks to create real, tangible results. For many years, our most successful business people have been attending breakfast seminars, networking events and corporate events with the sole intention of meeting new people and networking. New social media channels are providing a wider opportunity to identify and grow new networks in a very different way than physically attending meeting opportunities, but the basic principles still apply!
Investing in networks
Once you have started to establish your network, it is very important to invest in your network in a number of ways. Firstly, you need to establish a relationship that has mutual benefits or interest and secondly, you need to maintain that interest with regular exchanges or contact. The third point is that the information exchanged must be of value to both parties. Investing in your network requires dedication and focused activity. The returns may not be immediate but they will come in time if you have developed quality not necessarily quantity.