A mistake many business owners and C-level managers constantly is to assume that only the "top dogs" and important sales people need to be networked. To be sure the head brass should be extremely well networked. That’s a given. Rember the adage, "It’s not what you know but who you know!" Though this absolute is not completely true it cannot be overstated how important contacts are in running a business. So why would you not make all efforts to get your entire staff networked?
Why would operations staff and accountants need to be well networked? The more people your operations staff know at your overseas agents’ companies, at airlines, ocean carriers, etc., the smoother your business will run. Cargo that might get stuck can get unstuck sometimes by knowing the right people who can help out in a situation. Accountants face the same. They might need to know the right people at banks, tax advisors and in our list of creditors and debtors to be able to manage better your cash flow and keep you out of trouble. And believe it or not these "non-sales" staff can even bring in business to you with their personal contacts. Why keep these resources untapped for your business?
There is a fear from some business owners that if some of their more ambitious staff get really networked that they will ultimately leave to compete against them by opening their own company or joining a competitor. Well guess what? This would happen anyway! Make sure that while these people are with you they are performing at top level for you. And to do that they will need contacts.
So how would I recommend going about this?
My recommendations to get going on this are:
- Know what goals you have for each department of your company, not just for the company as a whole
- Look for events, organizations and associations that align with these goals you’ve set
- Identify the people in your company who would benefit both your company and their own personal status by participation in these groups and events
- Meet with the personnel identified in your company and explain what the desired end results for their networking should be
- Then get started! Send them out to it!
Remember, networking isn’t a money swap. You don’t give $100 and expect back $200. Business-to-business networking is an investment for your company. If you treat this as an investment should – similar to dollar cost averaging – by investing regularly in the right places with the right people, you will definitely grow your business in all the areas you have planned for. You will weather storms that others won’t. You will grow faster than those who don’t invest in networking. And by getting your entire company involved you are supercharging your returns on this investment.