Networking is a key part of business success. By definition a business does not operate in a vacuum, it has customers and suppliers, both of which will be networking with your company in one form or another. As a logical extension of this, traditional – or offline – networking events have long been used as a way of meeting interesting and valid new contacts. Perhaps they are new clients, perhaps new suppliers, and in a social setting perhaps new partners. The human touch of these events helps to separate the people we want to deal with from the people we don’t. Given these obvious factors in favour of traditional networking why do business networking websites exist and how can they be used to our benefit? Visit Houston Business Spotlight.
Business networking websites, such as Global Business Networking, are relatively few and far between, especially when compared to social networking websites. They do however have some significant advantages when used in a complimentary way to traditional networking. Here we list the principal advantages of online networking:
1. The main advantage online business networking has over more traditional forms of networking is the same advantage the internet has over television or printed media. You decide when you’re going to network, where you’re going to network and with whom. With a traditional networking event you’re forced to attend at the time and place the organisers decide. With online networking you decide when you’re going to network – all you need is a computer and internet connection (plus a membership fee if the site(s) you belong to require fee membership). If you wish to network at 3am your time that’s your prerogative.
2. The second benefit to online networking is the ability to network with people outside of your immediate geographic locale. As economies have expanded over the decades and businesses have outsourced both potential clients and potential suppliers are located further and further away. In many cases this can make personal visits expensive and time-consuming due to air-fares, hotel bills, expense tabs etc. Online networking neatly deals with these issues and allows you to network with anyone around the world. If you need to purchase cloth from China or raw materials from Africa a business networking website can help connect you with potential suppliers and customers.
3. The third advantage is one of personal safety and anonymity. Ever been to a networking event and wished that creep in the brown suit would leave you alone? Or you’re concerned about giving out your contact details to a bunch of strangers? A good business networking website will ensure your personal details are hidden whilst still allowing potential contacts to communicate with you (generally through the site rather than direct).
There is no getting away from the fact that online business networking misses the personal human contact really needed to properly assess an individual. To attempt to get around this shortfall many sites have a chat or IM (Instant Messenger) facility on the site. These can allow site users to attain a certain level of knowledge about each other which is more detailed than simple emails or faxes. However they do not replace human contact – and this is one of the key reasons online business networking should be used in conjunction with traditional networking methods.