Business networking happens when representatives of different companies interact, either in person or online, in the interest of creating mutually beneficial relationships. The benefits of business networking are myriad, including more fully meeting mutual clients’ needs, mindsharing, and more.
Some businesses work well with each other, and there's no way you'll know whether there are other companies yours will complement without business networking. Once you start talking to other business leaders you'll find out whether a potential relationship makes sense and will result in more work for both of you.
At the very least, you'll let other people know what you do, and when they meet someone who needs your services you and your business will be in mind.
If you've encountered an issue while running your organization, it's highly likely another business leader has run into the same problem. Maybe there's software you've not used or some other tool or method that could help you operate more efficiently. Maybe you know a solution to someone else's problem, and they'll remember you helped them out.
Business networking groups encourage this type of interaction.
Running a company is rewarding, but it can feel at times as though you're the only one who understands what it takes. Business networking events can help you meet other executives or founders who share your experience and with whom you can discuss issues unique to leadership.
It's good to have people to talk to, and business networking can introduce you to others who understand your situation.
- Local Chambers of Commerce.
- Regional business publications.
- City Convention & Visitors Bureaus.
- Search for groups online.
- Business referral organizations.
- BNI (Business Network International).
- LeTip International.
- Women in Business Network (WIBN).
- National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC).
- US and Local Chambers of Commerce.
- National Black Chamber of Commerce.
- United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
- Friday Networking Lunch (FNL).
Typically you attend business networking events or meetups and you'll start meeting other businesspeople in your area. You then share contact information and begin communicating after the event. Once you've found a group of people with whom get along well you've essentially formed a professional business network.
There can be multiple types of beneficial business relationships: those whose business yours complements and who could result in future clients or projects; those who share your experience and can provide advice; those who can empathize with your experience and are someone you can talk to, and more. Always remember that business networking is a two-way street: you have to do your part to keep the relationship working, or it will likely fade away.
With more and more businesses embracing remote work and telecommuting, an increasing number of people can live and work anywhere with wifi. While this is a boon for productivity, allowing talented people worldwide to do good work with great companies, it can also make it more difficult to find local business networking events or groups.
If you live in a rural area with no business networking groups or events, you may want to search for online business networking groups. Sites like LinkedIn can help you connect with like-minded professionals, although there are many who use them strictly as a marketing platform. You may have to wade through some sales pitches to establish a reliable networking group.
- Data.com Connect.
- Small Giants Community.
With new entrepreneurship opportunities being created every day, there are an equal number of businesses that don't operate within what's been considered the "typical" marketplace. Founders of bootstrapped startups have different issues than, say, presidents of established financial firms. So are there any alternatives for startup networking?
You bet! Just as there are many types of businesses, there are many types of business networking groups. Search online and you'll likely find an alternative or unconventional business group that fits your business and understands how you work and the issues you face.
If you've scoured the web and you still haven't found the group that suits you, there's certainly nothing stopping you from starting a business networking group of your own. While time could certainly be a factor, and building a business networking group will take time, if you have the ability you can create the group that suits your needs.
And it's a pretty safe assumption that if you haven't found a networking group that suits your needs, there are other people out there in the same situation. You can start by reaching out to current contacts and even old colleagues to let them know what you're doing. Soon you'll likely have a thriving business to business networking group tailored to your requirements.