Networking has always been my key strategy for business building. Networking has built my whole business career. The people I met are still my most essential acquaintances; some have become close friends.
Woody Allen has remarked that 80% of success is showing up. I couldn’t agree more. It means that people with whom you can share ideas and opportunities create circumstances that make it possible to do something. But unfortunately, the pandemic has stopped traditional networking, and in-person networking has struggled to return.
Technology has made business networking faster, more efficient, and more accessible. It has provided professionals with new ways to connect and build relationships regardless of location or schedule. As technology continues to evolve, we will see even more changes in the way we conduct business networking in the future.
One crucial element of traditional networking that has eroded due to technology is the relationship-building of personal interaction. In-person networking offered a sense of community, and through familiarity, business got transacted because we tend to do business with people we know. However, traditional networking is inefficient if you want to scale your business. Consequently, local professionals tended to benefit most from exchanging leads. Another problem traditional networking had was the inability to join a network if you unless you had a service to sell. Consequently, not being able to receive leads in exchange for giving leads skewed the value proposition with no chance to benefit.
Technology can also play a role in creating local communities with the potential for global reach. Adding e-commerce technology to support immediate transactions and providing commissions for lead generation has exciting possibilities. Members can also become buyers and sellers, enabling an expanded network where you, as a member, can belong and benefit even if you have nothing to sell by earning commissions on leads generated. In addition, member businesses can compensate for leads without having to reciprocate by providing a lead. As a result, transactions can become more efficient and available to exponentially more people. However, establishing local chapters using this expanded business network has the advantage of becoming part of a network of networks.
Bringing together a much more expansive community, not constrained by one local industry per member, opens the door to expanding the volume of business types. More business types allow members, not just professionals or those who own a business, to participate, earn income, and expand the network through their contacts.
Business networks’ essence is building relationships that can lead to new leads and sales. Technology can expand the reach and supercharge the interactions with the members by building a community that is also a marketplace.