“The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.” -Keith Ferrazi

Now that we know that Business Networking deals with groups of people in mutually beneficial relationships that are able to give your business the desired support, it is indeed sad that most start-ups don’t consider networking until things go bad and it becomes pretty late to do so. On the other hand, there are some who consider networking, but do not give it the dedication and consistency it requires.
Networking can become one of your most viable tools for business success when used properly. Below are blueprints you should consider adopting as your business network development strategy:
· Understand the process of business networking: Networking is a process. It is not a one-stop fix to your business problems. It requires consistency and dedication to make it work. If you do not understand that networking is a system that requires consistency, then you risk fallibility. After your research, take out time and resources to follow up, get involved.
· Define your network: The people you meet during networking may fall under either of these two groups:potential customers and those who can give you referrals. By defining your network, you know what areas to focus on and you are able to review your expected outcome.
· Strategise and be dogged: You need a good and workable strategy when networking. Having a well laid plan will help you know how to proceed with networking. More importantly, even when your networking has yielded no results, never give up. These things require time.
· Build relationships: Focus on relationship building. You see, the more people you have in your circle of influence, the better your chances are for growing abusiness with a vast array
of customers. It’s like playing the number game; you need an influential tribe togenerate income. Endeavour to build an alliance that will be appreciated by all involved.
· Invest in your network: Every good idea or plan will attract commensurate investment. When it comes to networking, you must be ready to invest your time, energy and money on the contacts you have made.Don’t just network, but ‘net-worth’.
· Be considerate: The same way people in your networking circle are committed to helping you in your quest for success, you should also be willing to lend a hand whenever they call on you. Remember, it’s not all about you!
· Build a strong personality: Have you ever heard that people’s personalities rub off on their business? With that in mind, build a strong personality. If you are trying to project a credible product, then you must appear credible yourself. Even in networking, having a sense of confidence in what you do is a very appealing quality.
· Find a common ground: Look for what you have in common with people and let things flow from there. Don’t go networking with the mindset that you must be perfect, speak Queen’s English and wear a heavy scented perfume. The most attractive quality you have is being yourself. As long as you know who you are, don’t fake it.
· Remove sentiments and irrationality: Networking is not about who you like the most, or who you feel most comfortable with. Remember that you are in business, so this is serious business. When you are bias about the people you network with, you inevitably plot your own downfall. Being in business has nothing to do with sentiments. Consider the active and resourceful people as your ‘go-to persons’.
· Spread your nets: You would be amazed at how far your business can grow if only you are willing to spread your net wide for a huge catch. (FACT: the more contacts you have, the higher your chances of succeeding.) As you grow your networking, contacts should also grow.
· Participate: Be involved. Attend meetings, conferences and events where you have the opportunities of hooking up with potential referrals and potential customers. When you attend these events, please remain focused and know why you are going.
· Communicate clearly: There is nothing that helps your business more than effective communication as it goes beyond networking to sales, advertising and the likes. In the world of business marketing your ability to communicate effectively goes a long way in making your values, passion and purpose clear. Be a source of valid information only. In business, you have no room for hearsays. Focus on what good communication can get you and go for it.
Go online: This brings us full circle. There is such potency in using online platforms to your advantage. Social media is itself a veritable tool for networking, even though it does not involve face-to-face interactions.
It’s not about what your business is, but what it will become as a result of the kind of people you choose to interact with. It takes generosity to build a powerful network.

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