What is networking in business and why is it essential for your company's growth?

Business Insights

Thomas Stanwell, Client Executive Manager at Hexagon Cards, explains why networking is fundamental for business success and how the age of digitisation is changing the way businesses connect.

Networking is about building and nurturing relationships, both personal and professional. These relationships form the foundation of a support system that can provide invaluable advice, resources, and opportunities. In fact, having a diverse network of contacts can be the difference between stagnation and growth.

Success is a collective effort and no individual can achieve their dreams without learning, collaborating and borrowing from people around them. Networking isn't only about trading information; it's about building long-term and meaningful relationships with other business leaders.

Networking is so important in business because no one can be an expert in everything. Often those leading businesses are incredibly successful in a specific industry, but any business owner knows you will often be required to carry out tasks beyond your own expertise. And that's where networking plays such a crucial role.

Broadening your knowledge

An immediate benefit of networking is the access it provides to a wealth of knowledge and expertise. Through interactions with peers and industry leaders, businesses can gain insights into market trends, best practices, and emerging opportunities. This access to information not only enhances decision-making but also fosters innovation and adaptability, enabling businesses to stay ahead of the curve. Networking facilitates collaboration and partnership, allowing businesses to play to different strengths and resources. By connecting with like-minded organisations, companies can expand their reach, access new clients, and diversify their offering. Collaboration also enables businesses to tackle complex challenges more effectively, pooling together expertise and resources to achieve common goals.

Mutual benefits

Networking thrives on the principles of mutual benefit. It's not solely about self-promotion or immediate gains. Instead, successful networking involves a mindset of giving and receiving. Professionals should seek ways to provide value to their connections, such as sharing relevant information, offering support or making introductions. By fostering a culture of mutual benefit, trust and long-term relationships can be nurtured. This is also great for your company's reputation, which is essential for any business. Networking is a key vessel for building a positive reputation around a business. By building a strong network, you not only increase your visibility, but also your credibility and trustworthiness. Every time you can offer your expertise or advice, your professional credibility is strengthened.

Build your confidence

On an individual level, networking can also help build confidence in your profession. Sharing business ideas can help to trust your business instincts and strategies. The result is the ability to pursue more opportunities in the workplace and an increase in chances of developing long-term relationships with other professionals.

How to network

However, effective networking requires more than just exchanging business cards at events. It demands genuine engagement, authenticity, and a willingness to give as much as you receive. Building meaningful relationships takes time and effort, and you need to be prepared to invest in nurturing connections and, perhaps more importantly, adding value to someone else's network.

It's all well and good knowing the benefits of having a strong business network but how can you build one? Traditionally, attending industry events such as seminars, conferences and awards have been key ways to grow and strengthen your network. However, as more and more businesses operate remotely and globally, networking can feel like a mammoth task. Fortunately, with the increasing connectivity of the internet and social media, networking has become more accessible and convenient than ever before. Social media platforms, professional networking sites, and virtual communities have transformed the way people connect, breaking down geographical barriers and facilitating global collaboration. Leveraging these digital tools, individuals can expand their network, stay connected, and cultivate relationships from anywhere in the world.

LinkedIn is another great resource for building a professional network. In recent years LinkedIn has transformed the world of employment, working as an opportunity for employees to put their best foot forward when hoping to land a new role and for employers to get to know their prospective employees. On top of that, the platform allows businesses to share their learnings and insights and encourages collaboration between companies.

Looking for business clubs within a relevant industry makes networking easier, allowing you to connect with the right people for your business. Aim to find groups with genuine benefits such as rewards and loyalty programmes, these allow you to build stronger connections with like-minded businesses and build a loyal customer base with other companies.