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03 September 2019

Business benefits of networking

Forward Thinking Business Blog –

I believe networking is a marketing and business development function. It is building your circle of contacts, who not only know you but are also willing to help you because they know you and know that you would do the same for them. It is not what you know or even, now, who you know, but how well you know them and who they know.

Business is all about people and relationships and business owners today have many opportunities to network. From local and industry events to online communities, it is easier than ever before to connect groups of like minded individuals. While it’s not always easy to find the time to network, it is important to realise that your participation in these activities delivers important business benefits. These include:

  • Access to knowledge and ideas: Networking, both online and face-to-face is an opportunity to seek advice from your peers and keep up to date with industry developments.
  • Contacts: When you establish a trusted connection with an individual, you open up access to their extended network. This can be helpful if you need to connect with a particular person or find someone with niche expertise as your networking contacts may be able to facilitate an introduction.
  • Opportunities: Similarly, networking contacts built on trust and mutual respect often lead to referrals and can open up opportunities in areas such as partnerships and joint ventures.
  • Profile: By raising your profile, networking opens up speaking and writing opportunities that can help you secure new business. This increased visibility is also helpful when you are seeking investors and/or planning to sell your business.
  • Confidence: Spending time with interesting people, both online and face-to-face, is good for your personal development and boosts your confidence.

In business, good networking skills are essential, says Feargal McCormack.

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Improving networking skills

The following three tips will help you improve your networking skills:

  1. Listen: Learning to listen is one of the most important steps you can take. People sense when you are genuinely interested in them.
  2. Ask open questions: Open questions make for better conversation. These are questions that begin with words like tell me, who, what, where, when, why and how — rather than questions that can be answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
  3. Prepare: It is essential to know what you want to say about yourself and your business (your elevator pitch). Keep this brief and practice how you say it focusing on clarity and confidence.

The most successful networkers understand that networking is not about selling to your contacts, but rather helping them and selling through them. It is essential to go beyond superficial conversations and collecting business cards. You must be willing to build lasting relationships based on trust so that the connections you form are comfortable introducing you to their contacts and referring business to you.

People don’t buy what we do, rather they buy why we do it. In my view, regardless of organisation size, inspired leaders all think from the ‘inside out’.

We believe in ‘the power of one’ — it all starts with passion and in order to be effective business leaders and networkers, all members of TEAM FPM have to be a living example of the FPM vision.

As in all aspects of life, what you put into networking influences what you get out. When you are a good resource for other people, it keeps you visible and makes it more likely that they will think of you when opportunities arise. Remember that if you receive referrals, it is important to follow up quickly so as not to let down your contacts.

FPM organises various business events for our clients during the year. These events provide excellent networking opportunities. For details of our next event…

Contact Feargal

Feargal McCormack / Managing Director

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