Networking with business peers provides essential knowledge
Others in your field can share important facts and advice with you. Even if you keep up with the latest business news, others will have other helpful experiences and insight. You may not always do things the way that person recommends, but sharing opinions, advice, and experiences with each other can teach you all valuable lessons.
Industry clients can help you satisfy your own clients
Talking to those who seek the services or products you provide can help you gain insights into dealing with your own clients. Of course, you will discuss things with your own clients. But networking with others, whether they become clients or not, can give you a different perspective. They may also help you come up with innovative new ideas.
Network with your audience to keep them satisfied
I am a journalist, which means that I need to keep readers happy. I also own several websites. Much of what I do revolves around content, be it creation, editing, publishing, and even mentoring. It's highly important that I keep up with what my audience is interested in. If I don't know what they want, I could easily lose that audience. Another website or article is just a click away from mine. For this reason, I like to keep an open dialogue with my audience. I will network through social sites and answer questions wherever my work is displayed. I consider my readers to be my friends. This is one thing I have done from the beginning just for the enjoyment. But I quickly learned it was also good business practice.
Where can you network with everyone?
There are many possibilities when it comes to networking. You can join organizations especially geared toward your business. There are also focus groups (online and off), business forums, and seminars. Online forums are a great way to discuss ideas, network with customers, and clients, and even find training materials. Social venues, such as facebook and Twitter can be invaluable. They can allow the space to network with clients, gain clients, network with peers, and even offer customer service. For those leery of adding just anyone to their facebook friends, you don't have to. Set up a public facebook page for business purposes. There are many possibilities. Where you network is not as important as keeping it up and having a variety of sources.
The recommendation to expand networking came near the beginning of my career as a journalist. I firmly believe it is a large reason for many of my successes thus far. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there and share things with peers, audience, clients, and customers. When you open up to them, they will be willing to open up to you as well. Everyone has something to teach someone else about every business and networking makes that possible.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network