The Benefits of Networking or What Value Does Social Capital Bring?
For some reason, a lot of people believe that the benefits of networking are only about business. But this isn’t entirely true. Networking is a versatile tool that helps in personal, social, and business life. This article touches on the advantages of networking and how to turn it into a working tool.
Benefits of networking: Faster, more efficient, and more successful
Networking is closely linked to social capital. What does it mean? In essence, social capital includes your connections, acquaintances, social circle, and social media followers—basically, people you interact with this way or another. Why are they referred to as the capital? That’s because meeting and communicating with them is how you can get value. This value is not about tangible things only. To get it, you should interact with these people effectively. And that’s where networking comes in.
So what makes networking so beneficial and what can social capital bring to the table?
Let’s take a closer look at an example: say, you have a massive social media following and you’ve moved to a city where you don’t know anyone yet. So, you post a request asking people to recommend some cool places to dine out or the must-visits. If some of your followers are based in that city, they will definitely help you out. Now here’s an example from the world of business. Sometime back, I was looking for a professional for my team. Unfortunately, none of those who came to the job interview was the right fit. So, I posted about this on my social media and got messages from several people. One of them was the person I ended up offering to partner up.
How did this approach help me? Essentially, I found an employee and saved the time I would otherwise have wasted on looking for the right person. Plus, I was contacted by someone who already knew me from my social media, knew what I do, and what I normally pay attention to. This created the right synergy right off the bat. In other words, networking enables you to save time which is one of the most valuable resources any entrepreneur has.
What is the benefit of networking for business?
1. Employees. People that are being recommended by somebody else, unlike total strangers, typically produce the best results. I’d like to note that I’m not talking about favoritism here. It’s first and foremost about professionals that are recommended to you.
2. Partners. Networking can help you find partners and investors because it is just like word of mouth. In the business community, people typically know each other and can recommend somebody who will meet your requirements.
3. Business tasks. Networking helps tackle business tasks associated with the production and sale of products, services, and marketing.
4. Scaling up business. Through networking, you can expand the circle of your business links and scale your business faster.
5. Reputation. Networking can help enhance your reputation as a leader, and a professional. After all, what you do and the fruits of your work will be seen by others, thus making you stand out among other entrepreneurs.
6. Mentor. Networking can also help you find a good mentor. And that does not necessarily have to be a teacher-student dynamic. You can watch what stronger business players do, interact with them to understand the way they think, ask for advice, etc.
It stands to mention that networking goes far beyond just the business environment. It is also a perfect way to deal with various tasks in your day-to-day life.
Benefits of networking in everyday life
One of the most common ways to find a specialist you’re looking for is to reach out to your friends. I bet you do that, too, when you ask your friends to recommend a good doctor, tutor, etc. The matchmakers use a similar approach since love life is where networking can be pretty helpful as well.
Networking enables you to expand the circle of people you know. Meeting somebody on a night out, at a dinner party, at the theater, and in any other relaxed environment increases the chances of it going well. So, when you will need help from your new acquaintance, you can start off by reminding them of when you first met. This will make them think back on a time well spent which, in turn, will work in your favor.
Networking also improves loyalty. Here’s a fine example to support this statement. Two moms met at a dance class where their first graders go. Later on, a daughter of one of them changed schools and ended up in a class of mom number 2. Now answer the following question: will the fact that two moms know each other and that their kids share a hobby increase the loyalty of the class teacher to the new student?
As you can see, networking can be a big help if you need a good plumber to fix your sink, look for a well-qualified physician, buy equipment, pick the right school or kindergarten for your kid, and loads more.
However, there is a difference between business networking and networking we use in everyday life. If you need simple advice, you can just join a relevant social media group or a forum. Your status, presentation, and success are irrelevant in this case. But when it comes to business networking, things can get trickier. You must follow certain rules and put in effort for it to work. Let’s take a closer look at a few of these rules.
A few simple rules for fruitful networking
Earlier, I mentioned that casual networking happens on social media. That being said, this is also true for business networking. How can social media aid entrepreneurs?
Through the right interaction with your followers, you can:
1. Convert them into your clients and/or partners
2. Expand your projects
3. Find loyal employees
4. Receive lucrative offers
5. Turn your followers into brand ambassadors, i.e. people who not only tell others about you but also defend you and your product on various platforms simply because they enjoy it and therefore trust you.
A natural question arises here: how to manage social media so that both you and your followers could benefit from it? Here are some of the rules I follow with my own social media accounts.
- Be honest. Do not try to create an image that just isn’t true because when your followers become your customers and partners and find out that the real you and the image you created online don’t match, this can easily scare them away and ruin your project.
- 2. Communicate what you know and are sure about. By using your social media, you create an image of an expert in your field. Typically, other experts tend to follow social media accounts like that. So, if you turn out to be out of your depth in the area you claim to know like the back of your hand, others will see that and may call you out on it in the comment section. This can easily ruin your reputation.
- Keep your word. If you announce a live video, promise to host a prize giveaway, or highlight a certain case, do that. If for some reason this did not happen, make sure to explain why and reschedule if possible. You must show people that you care and can be trusted.
- Make regular posts with helpful, interesting, and competent content. Today, social media offers us more information about a person than ever before. I often check the social media of my potential partners, since this is how I can learn about their life philosophy, and values, and then decide for myself, whether I would enjoy working with this person. So, make sure to create content that would convey that you are indeed a competent expert and a self-aware person.
- Be polite when interacting with your followers as they can lend you a helping hand in the most unexpected situations. Let’s imagine that you have come to a new city and need to find a professional in a very narrow niche. You can post a story with your request and your followers may step in and help you out. Now if you are rude to them and do not thank them, the response to your request will be minimal.
Things can be harder when it comes to offline networking. Why is that so? You can re-record your story and edit the caption multiple times to make it perfect, get prepped for your online speech, or peek at a paper for clues. This gives you a head start as your followers will have many opportunities to form their opinion about you and your expertise. However, you will only have one shot at making a positive first impression when you are meeting people offline. How do you do that? Let’s get to the bottom of it together.
How to create a good impression when meeting someone for the first time
I often attend various events as a speaker or a guest. Based on my observations, my own experience, and the experience of others, I have made a list of rules that can help you get a potential business partner intrigued right from the start.
Key rules on how to carry yourself at the event:
1. Arrive on time. Stick to the dress code. Be aware of your gestures and your overall body language as this can easily show that you are afraid or lack composure. And a lack of confidence is not the best companion when it comes to business.
2. Be proactive but not over the top. This means that you should not be afraid to be the first to approach and speak to someone but make sure to be in tune with the mood of the person you are talking to.
3. Get well-prepped for the meeting. Rehearse what you are going to say and your answers to possible questions.
4. Work on your self-presentation and have your business card at the ready. Think about what you will say to show your new acquaintances how you can be of help to them.
5. Try not to overwhelm a person with too much information all at once. Watch their reaction and throw more details in gradually.
6. Investors and partners are primarily interested in benefits, so you must articulate it well to blow their socks off.
“That’s great but how does this apply to networking?” you may ask. The thing is, nurturing long-lasting connections is one of the crucial goals for any event you attend. Even if at the end of the day nobody decides to partake in your project, you will be able to remind this person how and where you met which, in turn, will help break the ice. Now if you have friends or acquaintances that can introduce you to an investor or entrepreneur, do not hesitate to take advantage of that either.
The benefits of networking depend on you. If you are scared, insecure, and not ready to engage and interact effectively, it is safe to say that people won’t warm up to you easily and might not be willing to help. However, whenever you come from a place of confidence, people can see that you have something valuable to offer and thus will be more open to contributing to your end goals.
I invite everyone who is currently based in Dubai to business breakfasts whose mission is to facilitate networking. You can learn more by using my Whatsapp bot.