Effectively leveraging your business and personal connections to produce new business is the process of business networking. More than simply meeting people and talking about business, networking must use strategic methods to be effective. Instead of simply a collection of business cards, strategic business networking puts the user in control – establishing a plan for who to meet, where to meet and when. By building new business relationships, the networked business can find mutually beneficial opportunities to collaborate or use each other’s services. It provides avenues for referrals and other connections that will be productive. An effective business networking plan is consistent and utilized regularly.

Business networking can provide opportunities for generating contacts through a connection with like- minded people. This process is almost exclusively done on a face-to-face basis. It allows for the connection to be made in a personal way that can lead to long term business relationships. The networking can happen at conferences: both before and after a speaker, during a trade show: while visiting the booths, or by joining a networking organization. The monthly meetings are designed to allow for business officials to interact with people who have different connections. By building on the connection network, a business can realize new customers, solve problems for existing customers and make referrals to other companies.

A recent addition to the networking community is the establishment of online network opportunities. Through blogs, websites and social media avenues, an individual can connect with people from around the globe. While sometimes more difficult to manage, the online networking methods are proving to be beneficial to companies with a global or national market.

The danger to business executives is getting bogged down in the networking without actualizing new business from the connections. It is always good to have a connection, but if the connection does not prove to be financially beneficial, it can become costly to maintain. Keeping a good balance between cultivating a connection and focusing on the results is a smart way to manage the business network.