Many, if not all, interior designers, architects, and luxury durable goods companies have a vast network of people that they work with on a regular basis. These people tend to consist of business constituents, partners, customers, employees and friends. When you stand back and take a good look at the network of people you know and work with on a regular basis, you can see how by bringing these people together in a way that represents you and your company will give people outside your network a better idea of who you are and who you are.
Being a well connected individual and a company that has had a number of excellent business relationships over the years is a major plus to doing business with you over someone who does not have these relationships. Let’s say your number one customer is also a business owner and has a great idea for a new venture in another completely unrelated industry, but really wants to bounce their ideas off of someone knowledgeable before they invest. If you, through your business contacts and vast network, just so happen to know one of the leading experts in that industry; you will then become your customer’s new best friend for making this introduction possible. Your past relationships and connections should be working for you every day to help your business grow and establish new business, relationships and connections.
Why Expand Your Business Network?
The old saying “it’s not what you know, but who you know” couldn’t be more true when speaking about your business connections business networks. Today it’s easier then ever to build your business network with the use of the Internet. In this day and age there are many social networks at your disposal that allow us to not only showcase our contacts, but also gain new ones as well as new customers, friends, ideas and information. Many of these social networks even have sub-groups for exactly what you do, such as the Kitchen & Bath group on LinkedIn which has 935 members and growing.
The number one place for building business contacts and especially b2b contacts is on this social network, Linkedin.com. This social network has been around for about 5 years and has a nice member base with over 8 million users. I have seen business owners start with a small base of connections, comprised of people they’ve worked with, done business with, went to school with etc, and turn this base of connections into their own personal network of hundreds of very powerful and influential people.
Some companies may offer to build your Linkedin profile and network for you, but I suggest that all business owners do this themselves and really take the 30 minutes or so a week to join relevant groups, find new contacts and spruce up their personal profiles. The reason I suggest doing this yourself is because it will bring more credibility to your profile and network because in most cases you will know your business, industry and contacts better than anyone else. One exception may be if you employ a full service Public Relations firm such as DRS & Associates that handles everything for you and might be better equipped to handle the relationship management that goes into networking in this type of virtual community. Also if you really don’t have the time to maintain your account then you cannot expect to get a whole lot out of it as you really do get what you put into it when it comes to social networking and expanding your business network.