The big question: Does networking work for you and your business?

Despite the explosion of online networking, it’s safe to say that there isn’t a single piece of technology that can replace people power when it comes to building relationships in business. Here James Spear, Marketing Manager at David Spear Commercials, shares his thoughts on networking and its importance:

Networking plays an important role in our corporate strategy, as whilst traditional marketing tactics are great for the ‘tradesperson persona’ audience, networking is essential for building new relationships and maintaining existing partnerships with clients. Networking offers the targeted approach that the most successful and effective marketing campaigns are built on, allowing us to interact with a different market and more ‘account’ type customers rather than one-man bands.

It’s not just potential customers that we can liaise with during the networking process. Working with mutual partners within the industry or those serving complementary sectors has been a particularly beneficial way to acquire new business for all parties. Through networking we can share transferable business knowledge, discuss the latest and greatest industry trends, and even gain an insight into each other’s business processes to uncover better ways of working.

I recently joined the Cardiff Business Club with a view to penetrating and expanding our target audience within the Cardiff area. Earlier this year we opened a showroom in Cardiff, which made my entrance into the Cardiff Business Club particularly timely. Our recent work with external partners, like the Newport Gwent Dragons, has also helped us to realise networking opportunities in Cardiff.

A little closer to our Tredegar headquarters, our relationship with Merthyr Tydfil F.C. is helping us to expand our reach in the immediate local area. As a company, we take our corporate social responsibility extremely seriously, working with local teams and communities wherever we can. Our regular golf days have also provided the perfect environment to thank some of our partners for their ongoing business as well as bring together some key players that could benefit from working with each other. We also attend external golf days to spend time with new and existing customers outside of the work environment.

In this digital age it’s so easy to forgo face-to-face networking completely in favour of online only networking, but nothing beats the information and contacts gained from a good networking session. Networking in-person offers more relaxed interactions and opportunities, giving business people the chance to increase brand awareness with like-minded individuals. Future referrals and lead generation is then certain to follow.

Online networking does have its advantages though, and my use of LinkedIn in particular has helped to raise the profile of networking in the business community. The digital network is important, but in my view, it is no substitute for face-to-face.