In order to grow your company, developing your business network is essential. 21st Century technology has changed the way we all network. Instead of cold calling or sending out unsolicited email, we’re now seeking out connections on social media and obtaining referrals to help build our networks – and ultimately business.
In other words, networking is more than just throwing your name out there and hoping you get remembered, it’s about creating meaningful relationships in your industry and proving that you’re a trusted resource.
Every B2B business sells something to other businesses, be it a service or a physical product. This means that the professional ties between the seller and customer are very strong. They go far beyond brand image and brand loyalty to include serious business goals, significant professional relationships and personal career success.
Professional ties between B2B customers can also be very strong, creating something that extends beyond the company that includes the entire industry. Successful B2B professionals are connected, and these connections include their own customers. Chances are your customers are also connected in some way. Word of mouth marketing is a very strong tool to use and happy customers are very likely to talk about what you offer.
Here’s a great illustration from a Forbes article that shows just how big your network can actually be.
You can see the connections linking everyone together. If you only know 2 or 3 Customers, your network through these customers is already wide. Expanding via these connections is made easier as you can ask for a recommendation or an introduction.
Expanding your network also provides opportunities like joint business ventures, meeting trusted suppliers, forming partnerships, speaking and writing opportunities.
Being visible and raising your profile is a massive benefit about networking. Attending business events, hosting webinars and creating and sharing interesting content enables you to create a name for yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
Once you’re seen as a thought leader, you’ll find that additional leads and referrals will come your way as you’ll be the person that pops into people’s heads when they or a colleague need what you supply.
I mentioned in the previous paragraph about attending industry events and “getting your face known”, but modern technology allows us to grow a network globally. Social Media and other online networking applications can be a benefit in assisting you to build your network. But remember, if you do connect, build the relationship first before launching into any sales pitch.
If you’re using content marketing, add opportunities for the reader to connect with you, either with links to your Social Media page, or with a comments section underneath the blog. Good content will stir a reaction and you can use this to start a conversation with the reader and connect.
So, expanding your network allows you to increase your business via referrals, build your reputation and brand so you’re the 1st name that pops into their mind and also provides other business opportunities. The key is how you utilise this network. But that’s a topic for another time.