When it comes to conducting business, nothing is more important than relationships and there’s only one way to build them: by making contacts and networking. Harvard Business Review recently posted an article that encourages people to learn to love networking because it is a necessity in today’s world!
As luck would have it, there are several proven ways to establish and build them:
• via social media and networking groups;
• cold calling / e-mailing
• and simply reaching out
It often takes time and patience, but it can eventually lead to trust and even sales, as the relationship grows. People will do business with those they know, like and trust, before they make a similar commitment to a stranger.
In fact, no matter which platform you use, or even when networking in-person, the KLT (Know, Like, Trust) Factor is extremely important.
So, what exactly is it?
• Your audience knowing you on a deeper level (achieving this through being more personal through content)
• Your audience liking you because of what they get to know about you (achieving this through sharing content that inspires them and makes them feel good)
• Your audience trusting you because they feel safe with you (achieving this through social proof, such as testimonials; sharing stories of how you’ve helped others; even being transparent or accessible)
An article on the Forbes website, states that virtual networking is a skill. It is also one effective way to discover and nurture new friends and business acquaintances across all borders; there are several online locations and forums on the Internet to accommodate that if it becomes a goal.
This can also be easier than you think: if you’re a member of LinkedIn, ClubHouse or any online associations, or even if you use Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, you’re halfway there, as these represent ideal outreach opportunities.
There are also specific networking groups, often tied to the manufacturing industry, and even if you sign up to attend a webinar, like the IndustrySelect Webinar offered through MNI (taught by Kati, the Manufacturing Hype Girl), you can connect with new people there, as well.
If there’s a “Happy Hour” Zoom call, you could even sign up and get to know your peers through that activity.
Obviously, there are plenty of easy, cost-free ways to network, which is a necessary skill to find new clients and centres of influence. It will not only help you to build a strong referral pipeline and potentially generate leads, but you can use it to open doors and foster powerful relationships.
For any kind of Export Development - networking is a necessity, whether in your niche or mainstream - and in many countries, having a local partner is integral to success.
The best strategy would be to find partners who understand your prospective customers, including the ones that have the authority to make decisions - and they’ll give you valuable insights into doing business in their market.
They will give you a bigger-picture-perspective - even if you’re contemplating a job or career change - and the right connection will be looking out for your best interests as an ally.
Please note that this blog post is the 1st of a series of 4.
Don’t miss part 2 of this Networking Series to learn more about what networking is, as well as get some tips on how to network virtually.
Ingor van Rooi is recognized as a Networking Ninja. She is hired by entrepreneurs to help them develop a LinkedIn Strategy to stand out and connect with their ideal community.
As the host of a popular LinkedIn Live Show, Ingor is known for her love for people, community-building and passion for the principle of ubuntu and LinkedIn. She is also an international speaker and author, helping others to step out of their comfort zone and grow their network, one person at a time.