Networking – a fact of business life

It has long been said that people buy people, which we believe to be true. The biggest deals and orders are sealed with a handshake and formal agreement between people who trade together as businesses. The length of that business relationship often depends on the strength of interpersonal relations between buyers and sellers.

Good sales people look to build relationships and rapport with their customers which will turn a one off order into a long term contract.

It seems that as the SME sector has grown the “business networking” sector has developed alongside it which I would argue is something to be embraced, not scorned.

Networking has always had a place in the world of commerce. Whether with the old school tie, a special handshake, the golf club or a family connection the notion of “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” has been used to commercial advantage.

In my opinion, the professional business networking industry gives business owners and managers the opportunity to meet and make connections with our peers. How those connections develop into business relationships depends on the dynamics of the individuals involved and their network community.

Networking has been an important factor in the growth and development of our business. in the last 4½ years, we have met literally hundreds of people and formed positive relations with dozens of them. Networking has directly introduced us to several clients and many more have been won as a result of introductions from others within our network. Equally importantly, we have been able to help others with introductions that have benefitted their business.

No matter what size business you have the power of networking should not be underestimated. However with the many different networking events and meetings out there now, it is easy to become disheartened and unmotivated at the prospect of handing your business cards out to a room of strangers. The key is to find the right network for you and to genuinely be yourself. Like any form of successful relationship – friendship or partnership, they are built on people coming together with a genuine understanding and respect of each other.

From an early age we are specifically instructed DON’T TALK TO STRANGERS, so it’s natural to be apprehensive when joining a group or network (particularly for the 1st time), but we should remember that others are attending to meet new people and they are probably nervous too. My advice would be to treat networking as a bona fide marketing channel, commit some to it and find a network or networks that suit you and your business – because at the end of the day, “People buy People”.

Steve Bradley, Marketing Business Partner, Pennine Business Partners