Business networking skills are among the most important things you can do to grow your career. I have spent over a decade teaching business networking skills training at association conferences and inside company meetings. In this time I witnessed thousands of people get fired up at how easy it can be to engage. This is not about being an introvert or an extrovert. Networking is about creating long term and mutually beneficial relationships. When done right this means a more successful career.
However, many roll their eyes and assume that these social skills. They think business networking is about passing out business cards or schmoozing. They do not put the priority on meeting new people. But if you reverse engineer where most business deals originate, it comes from someone’s business and personal social network.
High Potential Employees
A manager once told me he limits his high potential employees from networking, as if they get connected they get better jobs at other companies. He liked having young tech workers as they were easily convinced that networking events were useless. It is true that if you network, and if you are good at your job, you will have more opportunities. Yet the idea of convincing high potential employees to hide away from cultivating business relationships is ridiculous. This person felt the younger the person, the easier it was to keep them away from networking groups.
I teach the opposite. It is my goal in life to convince all business professionals about the values of cultivating relationships. Getting out in face-to-face situations with like-minded people means you grow. No boss should want to stop that, as the whole company wins when your people are building relationships in your community. It helps with recruiting.
The reality is that some people will move onto other opportunities, but if you want to grow your business, you have to create long term career paths. You cannot hide your best people away in the basement.
Chamber of commerce, and other business groups are a great way to practice your networking. It is not about meeting only people you can immediately profit from knowing. Networking is not a quick fix. It takes years of investing in people and a lot of time and money to establish a powerful reputation. But those who do it right are the ones who always win.
Networking events are simply a tool for meeting people. Attending conferences and other networking events is a great way to get to meet people. But the event itself is not where the business networking happens. It really takes place in the follow up and when you share information with the people you meet.
When at a business networking event, take advantage of all the networking sessions. If the group offers Speed Networking, be sure to sign up. Participate in special program to pair first timers with seasoned attendees. Do not miss the chance to connect.
Business Networking Skills As Part of Your Business Plan
Whether you are a business owner or an employee, you should have business networking as part of your business plan. Fortune 500 company or small business people need to network. Young technology workers maybe most of all have to be going beyond social media and meeting people.
Carving out time to be visible in your community and cultivating your business networking skills should be a priority. During the recession from 2008 – 2012 this was a hot topic at association conferences, as their members were looking for jobs, or worried about their career stability. Since 2016 with the booming economy this subject has vanished from most conference agendas. But business networking skills training is something you have to work on now if you want to reap the benefits in the future. One has to dig their well long before they are thirsty.
The New Networking – It’s Just Like The Old Networking
With the growth of social media, digital, and mobile over the past decade it was thought that live networking would go away. People believed that likes, links, shares, and follows would replace the face-to-face needs of networking. But the opposite is true. Many people feel more disconnected today than ever before. Most people (from all the generations) feel lonely. What? Lonely? In a Facebook and Twitter world how can we be lonely.
Because digital connections can lack the real human to human connection that we biologically crave. Most people want to be part of a community.
Networking has changed a lot in the past ten years, and it has still remained the same. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that there is a difference between online networking and live networking. There is just networking. It is about establishing long-term and mutually beneficial relationships. When done right your business networking leads you to more success than you could have ever had without the connections.
Business Networking Skills Training
Consider Thom Singer for your business networking skills training or to speak at your next conference. www.ThomSinger.com