Networking aims to build a network of people, customers, business associates and high net worth individuals who can help us facilitate the process of growing our business from time to time. Networking is a valuable marketing tool that can assist the process of building a network of friends, customers and business associates. Every successful entrepreneur has some networking that makes his or her business success possible. This may be about raising capital, meeting new clients, facilitating the process of getting contracts or winning a business account. Networking helps you gain necessary connection that you may otherwise never have had access to in the first place.
Many individuals enjoy the success they have today because they networked with many others. Meeting people and managing relationships in the way that will be beneficial to you and your business is a serious business, though very tasking and demanding. There are so many ways businesspeople go about networking. One way is to become a member of any of the business clubs like the Rotary Club, Ikoyi Club, Apapa Club and any other business club within your business environment. Being a member of any of these clubs allows you not only to recreate but also affords you the opportunities to interact with high net worth individuals, exchange ideas, and possibly become a business associate.
You can also consider joining other organisations like the Institute of Directors (IOD), chambers of commerce and industry that suits your field of business or target market and other professional associations related to your profession and target market. For instance, some of these organisations regularly organise trade exhibitions, luncheons and other fora where people of different needs and financial capabilities converge for business purposes. What I have realised is that many of us run away from these activities only because we think that they are expensive. Let me state that these extracurricular groups and professional bodies are not as expensive as we all imagine, although you may have a few of them that are expensive. I also realise that some of these groups accommodate different classes of people and people of different financial capabilities. However, the benefits of being a member and taking part in the activities far outweigh the cost. Every social and business networking group or club has its skill. There are some that are predominantly for the “big boys” while some of them still accommodate average people in a business. To make sure that the group you are about to join is the right one for you, it is usually proper to make enquiries about them before joining them, as this will enable you to understand how they operate before putting your money in them.
Another avenue where people in business can build a network of people is by attending conferences, seminars, trade shows, trade fairs, exhibitions and workshops that are relevant to the type of business or target market. While these functions can be an excellent source of knowledge and give new ideas about your business, some of this forum can be an avenue to meet quality people and consequently stay connected with them. For instance, a month ago, I attended a function at the Golden Gate Restaurant, and I was chatting with the guy sitting next to me. We were discussing the difficulties entrepreneurs are facing doing business in our home country, Nigeria. During the discussion, I found out that the gentleman is an important person in one of these South African companies that just came to Nigeria. I remember that he mentioned to me that his company would be needing some local consultants to work on a new project in Abuja. What looked like a brief interaction later turned out to be an exciting foundation that one could build on to launch out in the South African market. At the end of the programme, we chatted for a few minutes, exchanged cards with the intention to meet at a launch date the following week and get to know each other better. Without gainsaying, such an interaction could result in a future business relationship.
I also want to make it clear that being a member of any business club or any networking group does not mean that one will be able to build a quality relationship automatically. Relationships are sought for, and we should prepare ourselves for it. Regular attendance of meetings and social activities organised by these groups is necessary because people would not just come and meet you at home. As you attend these functions and events, you will have the opportunity to meet the kind of people you have in mind and which you may find difficult to reach ordinarily. Before you attend these functions, ask yourself what you intend to gain and how you intend to conduct yourself in a way to take full advantage of all the business and social opportunities arising from these functions. Some of us in the past have lost valuable opportunities to meet people that can be our acquaintance.