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Business Networking Basics

Use available online networks to extend awareness of your brand

Business networking is the process of building business contacts and takes many guises including hosted speed networking events and online networking.

Finding the time to attend business networking events can be difficult, especially for SMB professionals whose time resource is already stretched to the limit. There is also the issue of which business network event to attend – if you are not actively involved in networking, or don’t already have a large network of business contacts, extending your network can be difficult.

Online Professional Networking is fast and free

Online professional networking sites – LinkedIn primarily – make a great starting point. There are others that may be worth looking into but LinkedIn is by far and away the most popular and has over 100 million global users, almost half of which are US based. The growth in popularity of LinkedIn in Australia make it a promising starting point for business networking, especially for businesses involved or planning to be involved in international competition to some degree.

Australia is usually at the forefront of online innovations, so with the growth of professional networking, those that take an active part will experience the greatest benefit whereas businesses that adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach may find themselves outside of the loop of successful networks.

Why use professional networking?

The primary reason for using professional networking is to expose your business to people not currently in your network of contacts with the aim of increasing brand awareness and creating new sales opportunities. Successful networking can prove an effective lead generation tool as like-minded professionals who have a good experience with your business are more likely to endorse your product or service to others in their network.

Online business networking expedites word of mouth and increases the likelihood of exposing your business to prospective customer. Social media, through Facebook predominantly, also presents excellent networking opportunities.

Use Online Social Networks to Grow Your Business Network

Creating a Facebook page for your business may seem like a fruitless endeavour for many business owners but if it generates one new sales lead, it quickly proves worthwhile. In modern business there are very few opportunities to get free exposure for your business and with 10 million Australians using Facebook, the potential exposure from a Facebook page is enormous. Proactively encouraging Facebook friends, customers and contacts to ‘Like’ your business extends your business network and increases awareness of your brand amongst potential customers.

Making your Facebook page more appealing to potential customers also enhances the likelihood of securing ‘Likes’ from like-minded professionals and customers and can help extend the reach of your business network. Facebook Optimisation is a new service from roi.com.au designed to help Australian businesses get more from their social media presence.

Who Should I Include In My Business Network?

For successful network building, look at all areas of your business to extend your reach. Consider the most likely prospective customers but also look at suppliers, buyers, technicians, tradesmen and other professionals you deal with. If you (and they) have had a positive experience dealing with each other then linking on professional or social networks can be mutually beneficial. This may open the door for new customers but it may also help you identify cost savings by dealing with suppliers in your extended network.

It also pays to be proactive with your involvement in business and social networking – while adding your local plumber to your network may not create a direct lead generation opportunity, it may be a good contact to call on in emergencies and such an interaction is more likely to result in a reciprocal referral if he (or one of his contacts) requires the product or service you offer.

To learn more about extending your online presence, building business networks and social media optimisation, contact roi.com.au today on 1300 650 274.