Business networking for Business Development is one of the most effective marketing and prospecting method you can use to grow your business. But if done incorrectly, it can be harmful to your business.
Business networking is a lot more than giving out business cards. It is about building trust. For Business Development the networking is a lot more than meeting people. It is about connecting with the right people.
Business networking is a lot more than collecting phone numbers. It is about staying in touch, about listening, addressing needs and looking for opportunities all at the same time.
Creating Advisory Councils - The Nonprofit Organization's Path To Progress
It is how as a Business Development we approach relevant business networking sessions that makes it work for us. Networking is about being authentic and genuine, building relationships and trust, and helping others. Although increased sales is the end goal, don’t participate in business networking to sell.
Build relationships and sales will follow naturally. People have to trust you before they’ll do business with you or refer you. Relationship capital is an immensely valuable part of business success. Put your energy, intention and attention on business networking.
When Henrik Balmer became the production manager and a board member of a newly bought-out cosmetics firm, improving his network was the last thing on his mind. The main problem he faced was time: Where would he find the hours to guide his team through a major upgrade of the production process and then think about strategic issues like expanding the business? The only way he could carve out time and still get home to his family at a decent hour was to lock himself—literally—in his office. Meanwhile, there were day-to-day issues to resolve, like a recurring conflict with his sales director over custom orders that compromised production efficiency.
Networking, which Henrik defined as the unpleasant task of trading favors with strangers, was a luxury he could not afford. But when a new acquisition was presented at a board meeting without his input, he abruptly realized he was out of the loop—not just inside the company, but outside, too—at a moment when his future in the company was at stake.
Henrik’s case is not unusual. Over the past two years, we have been following a cohort of 30 managers making their way through what we call the leadership transition, an inflection point in their careers that challenges them to rethink both themselves and their roles. In the process, we’ve found that networking—creating a fabric of personal contacts who will provide support, feedback, insight, resources, and information—is simultaneously one of the most self-evident and one of the most dreaded developmental challenges that aspiring leaders must address.
Their discomfort is understandable. Typically, managers rise through the ranks by dint of a strong command of the technical elements of their jobs and a nose-to-the-grindstone focus on accomplishing their teams’ objectives. When challenged to move beyond their functional specialties and address strategic issues facing the overall business, many managers do not immediately grasp that this will involve relational—not analytical—tasks. Nor do they easily understand that exchanges and interactions with a diverse array of current and potential stakeholders are not distractions from their “real work” but are actually at the heart of their new leadership roles.
Like Henrik (whose identity we’ve disguised, along with all the other managers we describe here), a majority of the managers we work with say that they find networking insincere or manipulative—at best, an elegant way of using people. Not surprisingly, for every manager who instinctively constructs and maintains a useful network, we see several who struggle to overcome this innate resistance. Yet the alternative to networking is to fail—either in reaching for a leadership position or in succeeding at it.
Watching our emerging leaders approach this daunting task, we discovered that three distinct but interdependent forms of networking—operational, personal, and strategic—played a vital role in their transitions. The first helped them manage current internal responsibilities, the second boosted their personal development, and the third opened their eyes to new business directions and the stakeholders they would need to enlist. While our managers differed in how well they pursued operational and personal networking, we discovered that almost all of them underutilized strategic networking. In this article, we describe key features of each networking form (summarized in the exhibit “The Three Forms of Networking”) and, using our managers’ experiences, explain how a three-pronged networking strategy can become part and parcel of a new leader’s development plan.
Identify which networking events you should attend. Pick groups that’ll help you achieve your goals. Find venues that make sense for your business. When you register for an event, schedule it like a meeting.
Determine how often you should be networking. How many times in a week, month, or quarter? Visit as many groups as possible.
Attend events with a plan and always try to learn something new. Prepare yourself for the event. Develop open-ended questions to ignite a conversation. Bring business cards but don’t give your business card to everyone you meet. Give cards to those who ask you for it. Try to sit with strangers. Don’t forget to mingle.
Conference Evaluation Is A Critical Aspect of Conference Management
Keep track of people you meet. Keep in touch with them and deepen your emotional connection. Establish a mutual beneficial relationship with other business people and potential clients/ customers. Meet with the group members individually so you get to know them better and try to build quality connections. Consider other group members as resources. focus on the group; listen and think about how you can help them. Focus on giving. Build trust within the group.
A Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) is also a Certified Meeting Professional CMP. The certification is offered by the Convention Industry Council. It is not easy to become a Certified Meeting Planner as the certification demands education as well as experience. The Certified Meeting Planner certification is the most prestigious certification of the meetings, conferences, symposiums and expositions industry. The certificate is awarded to only those people who have accomplished the highest level of proficiency in meeting planning. The Convention Industry Council launched the Certified Meeting Planner program in 1985.What It TakesAs has been mentioned earlier, it is not easy to become a Certified Conference Planner. Every aspirant for the certificate has to be a high-performer and very knowledgeable not only about the meeting planning process but also about corporate matters in general. They also have to be eager to understand the nuances and the art and science of meeting planning and management and enthusiastic about upgrading their existing knowledge of meeting planning. Aspirants also have to be aware of best practices and ethics in the business of meeting management and must show keenness to devise newer methods for better meeting coordination and management. The aim of the Certified Meeting Professional Certification is to enable the Certified Meeting Planner to add value to the meeting-management process, to take strategic decisions, to act ethically, and to add a new stimulus to the meeting process.The Certified Event Planner program or the certified event planner course encourages participants to continue with their education or jobs, augment their contribution to the industry, and achieve credit and recognition for their contribution across industries. The Certified Event or Meeting Planner credential is awarded on the basis of experience in industry and a tough written examination. Selection procedures are pretty rigorous. Presently, there are about 15,000 people placed in over 30 countries who have attained the Certified Meeting Planner certificate.Essential Criteria for Becoming a Certified Conference PlannerA bachelor's degree is not compulsory for the certificate but it obviously improves your chances of becoming a Certified Meeting Planner apart from increasing your demand in the job market. Aspirants must have at least three years of experience at the industrial level. All candidates are screened by the Convention Industry Council before they are allowed to sit for the examination. Candidates must score a minimum of 90 out of 150 points to be eligible to sit for the examination. The points are awarded to the candidates according to how they fare in the following categories:Management Responsibility has a maximum of 50 points allotted to it Experience in Meeting Planning has a maximum of 35 points allotted to it Professional Contribution towards Meeting Planning has a maximum of 30 points allotted to it Education and Continuing Education has a maximum of 25 points allotted to it Professional Association/Organization Memberships has a maximum of 10 points allotted to itManagement Responsibility and Experience in Meeting Planning have been given more weightage than Professional Contribution towards Meeting Planning, Education and Continuing Education and Professional Association/Organization Memberships because it is felt that these two aspects are the real indicators of whether or not a person is a capable meeting planner.The examination for Certified conference planners or certified event planners is conducted twice a year by the Convention Industry Council. Conference planners who are keen to work with the government and keen to become Certified Government Meeting Planners should take the Certified Government Meeting Professional examinations that are conducted by the Society of Government Meeting Professionals.Benefits of the CertificationA Certified Meeting Planner obviously enjoys several advantages. The Certified Meeting or Conference Planner certification brands the holder of the certificate as a professional with a lot of experience and who has displayed unique skills and who possesses a vast amount of knowledge. The certification testifies to the efficiency and authenticity of the holder. Consequently, the career prospects of a Certified Meeting or Event Planner are much better and brighter than those of ordinary meeting planners. Certified Meeting Planners have more scope to demonstrate their expertise in large symposiums and conferences as they have acquired the certified meeting planner training.A Certified Meeting Planner is instantaneously recognized by other Certified Meeting or Conference Planners who belong to an association of certified planners and who are all dedicated to the progress of the meeting planning process. A Certified Meeting Planner can obviously charge more than ordinary meeting planners and event managers for his or her services. As the certification stands for a high degree of professionalism, business intelligence and skill, a Certified Meeting Planner is stamped throughout his or her life as an extremely goal-oriented professional.
Do not expect to receive benefits right away. Do volunteering work for network groups to stay visible and give back. As a responsible Business Development you must show up regularly and on time, show others how you deal with business meetings and associates. Give quality referrals and leads. If someone gives you a referral, follow up on it in a timely manner. Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. Take a referral seriously.
Don’t spam on social networks. Use the platforms designed for Business Development to build relationships and expand your network.
Limit self-promotion. Don’t sell. Build relationships. Be as helpful as you can. Share relevant information with others as people love to learn new things. Participate in discussions. Let others know you’re real. Be approachable. Treat your online connections just as valuable as your offline connections.