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The Art Of Networking

Aug 10, 2008
As an entrepreneur you'll come in contact with numerous other business people as you conduct your day to day operations. They could be lawyers, suppliers, customers or other business services providers. These individuals are important to your business in many ways. If they bought your product or service or if you hired them, you can also gain their business knowledge, experience, ideas, and advice if you stay connected to them. This is what networking is all about. Networking is when two or more different businesses stay in contact on a regular basis to help build and improve each others business.

Some of the benefits which can be gained by talking to other business people are:
  • Knowledge or information that you didn't have before
  • Advice on how to solve a current business problem
  • Leads to a new business project or opportunity
  • Joint ventures and cross promotion deals
  • Learning important skills that you didn't have before
  • Constructive criticism that improves your business
  • Brainstorming that sparks a profitable business idea
  • Encouragement and motivation for your projects
There are several ways to network with other business people. You could participate in business expositions and trade shows. You might visit business clubs and associations or take part in on-line business related forums, e-mail discussion groups or chat rooms. By using your creativity, you could come up with even more ideas.

If you have the time, you could start your own networking group. You could hold meetings at a local seminar room, at a park, or at your own business facility. If you want to hold meetings on-line you can use a private chat room. You should publish a print or e-mail newsletter to keep members informed of meeting dates and times.

It is helpful to keep all of your business associates' contact information in one place. Make sure it is organized by business type or profession for easy searching, so when you need some advice on a new marketing campaign you can call your marketing expert. Be sure to follow up and stay in contact by phone or email on a regular basis.

Another fantastic way to network with other businesses is to operate a joint venture. This is when two or more businesses join together to work on a project for a set period of time. Participating in joint ventures with other businesses can increase your chances of beating your competition, increase your sales and increase your profits quickly. Other advantages of a joint venture are:
  • money can be saved when businesses share operating costs
  • referrals can come from other businesses
  • valuable time can be saved when businesses share the workload
  • new products and services can be offered to your customers
  • new business associates can be gained
  • money can be saved by sharing advertising and marketing costs
  • advice and information can be obtained from other businesses
You can find joint venture opportunities with businesses online or
offline. I try to find businesses that have the same target audience, but are not in direct competition with my business. Here are a few ways to find joint ventures online:
  • subscribe and participate in e-mail discussion groups, online forums and newsgroups that deal with your target audience
  • subscribe to e-zines that deal with your targeted audience
  • note on your Web site or e-zine that you are interested in doing joint ventures
  • search in your favorite web directories and search engines to find businesses for joint ventures online
Once you find a business simply e-mail them your proposal.

Explain to the business owner the benefits of the joint venture.

Discuss why it would be a win/win situation for both of your businesses. Provide feedback regarding their business, Web site, products and services. Using the methods above will enhance your chances of constructing a profitable joint venture.
About the Author
John Kaighn is a Registered Investment Advisor with Jersey Benefits Advisors and writes articles on various business and investment information, ideas and opportunities. For more information about this and other topics you can visit http://www.johnkaighn.com and http://www.jerseybenefits.com
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