Business networking is an activity where individuals or groups, all of whom have a common agenda, get together to take action on business opportunities that have a net positive effect on all concerned. Business networking has absolutely nothing to do with multi-level or network marketing.
Business networking can be done on a local level. Business networking international is just as simple due to the internet. Small business networking groups have become very prevalent on the internet, as they allow members of the group to exchange ideas and leads that are important to their common goals, but they are ideas seen through the eyes of different markets. This is a perfect example of how networking in business really works.
Let’s look at a simple example; let’s say you have a small business that services home heating equipment, furnaces and the like and you live in Toronto, Canada. This is a global business, but obviously it is a business that is done on a local level. Now; you are finding it difficult to get repeat business, the number of furnace repairmen in Toronto is overwhelming and the customers are spoiled for choice. One of the members of your business networking group may be in Frankfurt, Germany. At one time the German firm may have had the same problem, and he found the solution to customer retention was to offer discount cards which applied to subsequent service requirements. If he found it worked, and you had not thought of that solution, and none of your competitors in Toronto offer the discount promo, then you have been given the solution on a platter, for free.
Varieties in Business networking
Business networking works differently depending on the market, the product or service or the region. In the simple example I gave above, this solution would not have come out of a networking group, all of whom were from the same town, with the same or similar business. The business networking tips that you get are not going to divulge anything that would give you a competitive advantage, this is one reason why international groups are so beneficial. Not only are you not giving your immediate competitor an idea, the ideas that you get may be getting are unique to the market you serve.
What may start out as a casual relationship may turn into a cartel. Business networking can be used at times to keep a new player out of the market. Let’s assume you have a business selling portable pneumatic tools used in the assembly of computer cases and other items made on an assembly line. These tools will be suspended above the work surface by a spring loaded device that allows the operator to pull the tool down, perform the function and then just let go of the tool. The tool returns to its home position ready for the next movement.
Let us further assume that pneumatic tools are produced and marketed by 20 different companies around the world. Lets further assume that there are 4 companies globally who produce the spring loaded retracting device.
As a pneumatic tool manufacturer you approach the manufacturer of the retraction device and ask for a proposal for supply. If, when you get the quote, the price does not allow you to at least double it to reach a competitive market price, then you know you are dealing with a supplier who is part of a business network, providing ‘special” prices to members of the network, therefore keeping new players at bay. This is very prevalent when you deal with a Chinese supplier. They are not harnessed by the same anti-trust laws that are in force in the west and this is also one of the reasons for their success.
Many entrepreneurs and small businessmen are using business networking sites to enlarge their circle of potential partners and to self promote. As a tool, this approach allows you to expand into a circle that you feel you can trust. Through introductions to others who have a similar goal, as well as the introduction to tools they use, one can quickly find and exploit new business opportunities.
Online Business Networking
There are many “virtual storefronts” around the internet that you can tap into too. From these sites you can easily get connected to others who wish to share demographics and an exchange of data. As your group all shares a common denominator, you may also find that business-to-business sales can be consummated. Just because you have a common profile does not mean you have a common product offering. Small business networking is an ideal way to expand your network, your products, your sales; all these and many more opportunities are instantly transmitted throughout the world.
If you are a professional, perhaps a Pediatrician, you will find yourself being invited to attend many conferences during the year. These professional conferences are very much an example of business networking events. It is here where you will meet fellow Pediatricians from around the state, country or the world. You will also be exposed to medical equipment suppliers and drug companies who frequent these meetings, as either a sponsor or an exhibitor. When you return from these meetings your professional network has been expanded, and over time, all these contacts will prove to be of some benefit in either your profession or in your social circle, or both. Social networking for business purposes is neither new nor inventive, but in today’s world, where instant communication and inexpensive travel is available, it is becoming a more important part of exposing ones business; be it professional or product oriented.
Networking has come a long way from the days when the exchange of networking business cards was the only way of building your exposure and contacts. The face to face, the warm handshake will never be replaced with a computer monitor, but it adds one more weapon to your arsenal when you go into the battle for business. Business networking must not be overlooked; it can become one of your most powerful marketing assistants.
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