Business networking in the 21st century remains a critical component of building and maintaining contacts with like-minded entrepreneurs and existing and potential clients.
The internet and social media has made it easier than ever to communicate with people from relevant organisations and networks and share knowledge, attract new clients and recruit new employees.
The combination of new social media tricks of the trade with the traditional means of liaising with useful resources and forging new working relationships means business networking is multi-faceted in the 21st century.
Make use of LinkedIn
LinkedIn is arguably the largest business-related social networking site on the internet and consequently is a great platform to build and manage your professional identity. LinkedIn has over 10,000 groups that you can join and participate in discussions and debates whilst connecting with corporate blogs in an effort to engage with your professional network.
Shout about your expertise
Don’t be afraid to display your expertise to potential clients and fellow professionals. Use social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook to build a virtual contacts book and offer regular snippets of advice that add value to your followers’ day-to-day working lives. If you’ve got something more in-depth to say why not consider writing a personal blog that can be a great way of building contacts and trust in an informal manner.
Encourage word of mouth
One of the main benefits of social media networks is that they encourage effective word of mouth marketing for products and services. If the response is positive and it goes viral it can be a major coup for emerging businesses. Similarly, it can be a very damaging experience if businesses receive negative feedback. However, in the main it is great for brand exposure and for building trust with potential clientèle.
Show your face at events
In order to become a familiar figure to like-minded entrepreneurs and potential connections it is important to engage with local business networking organisations and show your face at as many events as possible.
Death of the business card? No way!
Although you could be forgiven for thinking business cards may be somewhat defunct in their purpose with the accessibility of the internet and social media, it is still a very successful tool for attracting leads and referrals in the 21st century. A business card still makes that all-important first impression of your business to potential customers and subsequently it should be eye-catching and memorable, whilst being a treasure trove of contact information without being mundane.
Be selective with new contacts
It is highly likely you will meet a multitude of names and faces when business networking in the 21st century. However, the likelihood of staying in contact with all your new connections is very slim. Consequently you should aim to be selective with the contacts you touch base with on a regular basis – ideally entrepreneurs and businesses that can offer you something extra.
Business networking remains a crucial skill for successful entrepreneurs and effective networking will certainly add an extra dimension to your businesses’ growth potential.