Networking and Business Development are two activities that every small business owner needs to actively do. And while the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, these two activities are different, yet related.
Networking is the process of expanding one’s contacts in the business world. A business owner networks when he or she exchanges business cards with another business owner, attends a local chamber of commerce meeting, or participates in a trade show or exhibition. Networking is a way to meet new people in fields that are related or complimentary to your field of business, or who may be in a position to introduce you to others. There are many networking organizations and opportunities that one can take advantage of; BNI is the largest such organization. BNI chapters are located in cities all around the world, and provide members with a proven, structured way to network and meet other like-minded business people.
Business Development is the process of growing one’s business. Most business owners are interested in growing their businesses; Business Development allows companies and organizations to grow larger and stronger, and protects against downturns in the marketplace, or the inevitable loss of clients. Organizations that teach sales training skills are involved in Business Development, as are not-for-profit groups, such as SCORE.
Since both activities (Networking and Business Development) are needed, it is helpful to participate in groups that offer both. Stamford Business Network, a Gold Chapter of BNI, is such a group: it provides a formal, structured approach to Networking, along with the teaching of Business Development skills and the mentoring of its members.
Members meet weekly to network within the group, exchange warm referrals with one another, share closed new business and successes, and offer testimonials. In addition, members participate in the monthly “Think Tank” lunch, organize after-hours business networking activities, and meet regularly with other members over coffee or a meal to learn about one another’s business and to offer business insights and help.
Networking and Business Development may be two separate, inter-related activities, but they’re both practiced — and perfected — at Stamford Business Network!