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Business networking is a socioeconomic business activity by which groups of like-minded businesspeople recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities. A business network is a type of business social network whose reason for existing is business activity. There are several prominent business networking organizations that create models of business networking activity that, when followed, allow the business person to build new business relationships and generate business opportunities at the same time. A professional network service is an implementation of information technology in support of business networking. Many business people contend business networking is a more cost-effective method of generating new business than advertising or public relations efforts. This is because business networking is a low-cost activity that involves more personal commitment than company money. Country-specific examples of informal networking are guanxi in China, blat in Russia, and Good ol' boy network(US)/Old boy network(UK).
In the case of a formal business network, its members may agree to meet weekly or monthly with the purpose of exchanging business leads and referrals with fellow members. To complement this business activity, members often meet outside this circle, on their own time, and build their own one-to-one business relationship with the fellow member.
Business networking can be conducted in a local business community, or on a larger scale via the Internet. Business networking websites have grown over recent years due to the Internet's ability to connect business people from all over the world. Internet businesses often set up business leads for sale to bigger corporations and businesses looking for data sources for business.
Online business networking
Businesses are increasingly using business social networks as a mean of growing their circle of business contacts and promoting themselves and their business online. In general these business networking tools allow business professionals to build up their circle of business partners trusted to do business with. By connecting these business partners the business networking tools allow individuals to search for certain business people within their network. Through introductions, the members of these tools then can get in contact with new prospective business partners. Since businesses are expanding globally, social networks make it easier to keep in touch with other business contacts around the business world. Specific cross-border e-commerce business platforms and business partnering networks now make globalization accessible also for small and medium sized businesses.
Face-to-face business networking
Face to face business networking can also occur through referral business networking clubs.
General business networking
Before online business networking, there was and has always been, business networking face-to-face for business. "Schmoozing" or "rubbing elbows" are expressions used among professional business professionals for introducing and meeting one another in a business context, and establishing business rapport.
With business networking developing more business, many businesses now have this as a core part of their business strategy. Those businesses that have developed a strong business network of business connections suppliers and businesses can be seen as Networked Businesses, and will tend to source the business and their suppliers through the network of relationships that they have in place. Networked businesses tend to be open, random, and supportive, whereas those relying on hierarchical, traditional managed approaches are closed, selective, and controlling. These phrases were first used by businessman Thomas Power, businessman and chairman of Ecademy, an online business network, in May 2009.
- Business Networking: How to Build an Awesome Professional Network
- 9 Ways To Leverage Your Online Business Networking Activities, April 18, 2010
- Hubert Österle, Elgar Fleisch, Rainer Alt (2001), Business networking: shaping collaboration between enterprises (2, illustrated ed.), Springer, ISBN 978-3-540-41351-6