You’ve probably heard the saying that finding success in the business world is all about who you know. Although career development isn’t all about business relationships, building connections can play a critical role in your success and growth as a business professional.

So, what exactly is networking in business and why is it so important? How can you start building strong business partnerships? We’re covering this and more so you can grow your corporate networking skills and take your career to new heights.

What Is Networking in Business?

Networking in business refers to an intentional practice of meeting others in the field, making connections and building meaningful professional relationships. Networking can occur in a variety of settings, such as:

  • In college
  • At industry events (such as trade shows and conferences)
  • Over a professional networking platform, such as LinkedIn
  • Within professional associations

Networking can also take on many forms, ranging from quick and informal interactions and conversations to project collaborations.

Why Is Networking in Business Important?

Networking is a vital aspect of just about any field or industry, but it is especially important in business because so many opportunities are all about whom you know. Having the right professional connection could very well open the doors for new jobs, collaboration opportunities and other exciting projects you may not otherwise have access to.

In addition to potentially improving your career prospects, networking provides an excellent avenue for exchanging and sharing ideas with others, expanding your worldview and helping you devise innovative ideas that lead to positive change.

The more people you know in your field, the more you can build a name for yourself and establish yourself as a respected industry thought leader, boosting your professional confidence and empowering you to do amazing things.

How Does Business Networking Work?

Now that you understand what business networking is and why it’s so important, you might be wondering how business networking actually works. To understand this, it’s important to look at some of the more specific benefits of business networking and the potential career advancement opportunities it can yield.

Benefits of Business Networking

By meeting other business professionals and building relationships with them, you’re able to connect with people at all levels in your field. Because accessing higher-level thought leaders can be challenging (especially within larger companies and organizations), putting the time and effort into networking could very well be the gateway to networking with more established business professionals.

These connections could open the doors to new opportunities—whether it be a job opening or a mentorship program. Business networking can also help you achieve a sense of belonging and satisfaction in your career, especially as you develop more meaningful business relationships and friendships.

Career Advancement and Opportunities

It’s common for networking relationships to turn into career advancement and similar opportunities. For example, a professional that you connected with at an industry conference last year may reach out to you on LinkedIn about a new job opening that you would be perfect for. Without that professional connection, there’s a chance you never would have known about the opportunity.

Mentorship and collaborations are also common results of business networking relationships, and such opportunities could be what takes your career to the next level.

H2: How to Find Your Network

These days, it’s easier than ever to network in the business world. Ultimately, successful corporate networking is all about knowing how to utilize the resources that are available to you, ranging from social networking tools to in-person networking opportunities.

Online Networking

There are plenty of ways to network online, but social media platforms are among the most convenient. Through a professional networking platform (such as LinkedIn), it’s easy to connect with business professionals from anywhere in the world and expand your network past your local reach, potentially leading to all kinds of exciting opportunities on a global scale.

In addition to social networking platforms like LinkedIn, you may also be able to establish new professional relationships on industry message boards, forums and similar avenues.

In-Person Networking

While the internet can be a great tool for building connections and partnerships with other business professionals, it is not a complete substitute for in-person networking. By going out into the world and establishing connections with other professionals face-to-face, you can meet others who live and work in your immediate area. These local connections can be useful if you’re looking to collaborate on a project or find a business partner to share in your next big venture.

There are plenty of ways to meet other business professionals in person, including:

  • During college (in classes or extracurricular activities)
  • At your place of employment
  • Through a local industry conference or meeting
  • At a professional association meeting or event

Tips for Effective Business Networking

Whether you’re new to the business field or are looking to focus more of your efforts on networking, keep the following useful information in mind as you strive to establish and manage new business relationships.

Eye Contact

. In business communications, eye contact is especially important because it helps to establish trust, display honesty and show respect for others while making a solid first impression. When conversing with someone face-to-face, maintain eye contact a decent amount of the time (too intense of eye contact can be off-putting). Eye contact will demonstrate to the person that they have your full attention and you are truly listening to what they have to say, which is a sign of respect. Maintaining eye contact (rather than letting your eyes wander) also demonstrates self-confidence.

Be Proactive

One of the worst mistakes you can make as an aspiring business professional is to assume that your network will find you, when it’s often the other way around. You must be proactive about finding other business professionals with similar interests and meaningful insights to offer.

It can be helpful to come up with a written plan for growing your professional network. In addition to creating a profile on sites like LinkedIn, join a business association at your university or attend local business conferences and events. Once you have a plan in place, you’ll have an easier time forming new business partnerships and nurturing those relationships

Offer Assistance

Remember, networking is not a one-way street. While you stand to gain a lot from having a strong professional network, business partnerships are just as much about giving as they are about receiving.

This means that you should always be thinking of ways to assist others within your network with achieving their career growth. Whether referring someone for a job opening or getting them in touch with someone who has similar ideas, offering assistance will help you build and grow your reputation as a professional.

Develop an Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is a short (usually just a few sentences) way to introduce yourself as a professional, including your name, current position and what interests you most in the field. Once you have your elevator pitch down, you’ll have an easier time introducing yourself to new people and building relationships with others in your field. A strong elevator pitch is also a great way to find others who may share similar interests or passions, which can help you build your network even more.

As you can see, building the right business relationships can make a significant impact on your career trajectory, helping you share ideas, expand your visibility and even explore new opportunities. With these best practices in mind, you’ll be able to start growing your professional network with confidence.

Advance Your Career

In addition to corporate networking, having a solid business-related degree under your belt can help you achieve higher levels of success and growth. If you’re looking for a quality business degree program, Keiser University has plenty of graduate degree options for you to explore. From business administration (MBA and DBA) to Master of Accountancy (MAcc) programs, you can find the advanced degree that suits your professional goals.

Learn more about Keiser University’s degree programs (including admissions requirements) by getting in touch with a graduate admissions counselor today.