1. Business networking is simply the relationship a particular firm or business has and maintains with other firms or businesses.
This has been identified to be an important factor in the success of any business, as it opens businesses to more prospective customers and wider participation in a market. Mazzarol (2003) stated that small firms, having recognized the importance of alliances spend a lot of time to maintain and strengthen the relationships. This was a result of a study conducted among ICT firms in Australia. Likewise, in a review of how networking has contributed to innovation in the United Kingdom (UK), confirmed from evidence, the relevance of networking to firms in innovation especially in the face of advancement in technologies (Pittaway et al., 2004).
There abound myriad networking methods. They all have their advantages and disadvantages. However, the effectiveness of one particular method will depend on the type and the situation to which it is applied. It will not be possible to achieve business networking success without a very good communication and listening skill. As a result of this, the methods that have been identified as affective in this write up presuppose a good communication skill. These methods that have been identified to have led to business success include:
- Face-to-face meeting: having a face-to-face contact with the top management of the clients will make a very effective networking. This is suitable for situations in which the clients are businesses on their own or a group of people. This form of direct communication can also include phone calls. (Mazzarol 2003, p8)
- Social Networking: Social networking is also a very good identified method of business networking. At top management levels, informal personal contacts have been identified to be important means of networking. (Mazzarol 2003, p8). Social networking especially on the internet has a greater potential to reaching out to a wider audience. The avenues include social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace etc. Maintaining Blogs with information on the business will also make an effective means of communicating information on businesses and reaching out to clients.
2. In making business known to potential clients through networking, a number of ways will help in achieving the objectives. This plan will however only involve those ways that will produce the most desirable results.
- Make advertisements: the advertisements will take different forms and be run over various media. It will be in the form of door-to-door awareness, print and electronic media (Radio and Television), and the internet.
- Create Forums: the forums are avenues to create awareness on the products and services on offer.
- Social and Business Networks: creation of social networking promoting the business such as Facebook and Twitter pages and business network like LinkedIn will help create business awareness reaching a substantial membership of the online community.
- Website and Blogging: Creating a website and / or Blog including a “web ring” to establish an online presence for the business. The web ring involves providing links to the websites of similar businesses on my own site with a guarantee to have the link to my own website on theirs too. Registering with a prominent Search Engine such as Google will also ensure that the business comes up in search queries relating to the business.
- Reputation and trust: Building a reputation for excellence will assist in getting referrals from clients that have experienced our services.
3. Networking to make the business known for similar businesses to be comfortable telling others about my business will be achieved using hard contacts and soft contacts.
This is a networking concept involving a group that is aimed at providing referrals among the members of the group. This group meets regularly to present their goods and services on offer to the members of the group and the members are obliged by an undertaking to mutually refer sales prospect to each other. Traditionally these groups meet face-to-face but with the information age, such meetings can be virtual, taking place on the internet. The plan of action to follow will include
- Identify a relevant hard contact networking group in the community.
- In a case where no such exists, a mutual agreement with the owners of similar businesses on potential client referrals will be sought with such owners.
- Membership of professional bodies relevant to the business.
Mazzarol, T. (2003). Strategic Networking Among Small High Technology Firms: Evidence from the Western Australian ICT Sector. ANZAM Conference 2003, Freemantle WA.
Pittaway, L., Robertson, M., Munir, K., Denyer, D., & Neely, A. (2004). Networking and Innovation in the UK: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Advanced Institute of Management Research