The 8 Commandments of Business-To-Business Networking

Business How To’s

29 April 2018

The 8 Commandments of Business-To-Business Networking

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

The 8 Commandments of Business-To-Business Networking

Whether you’re working a 9-to-5 job (do those kinds even exist anymore?) or you run your own company, it is no longer enough that you offer an excellent product or service. A successful business association or a not-so-successful one relies upon myriad factors.

Chief among them, the one that truly differentiates a hit from a miss, is business networking. No, don’t roll your eyes just yet; it is one of the most crucial prongs that you can use for business growth. And that is what you’re here for, right?

For some people, this side of the business comes easy. The meeting people, stopping by to lend a helping hand, making small conversation and eliciting a laugh – it’s second nature for them. For the rest of us, the ones who are not naturally extroverted, this bonhomie requires an extra bit of effort.

Yes, you have a fantastic idea, and yes, you want it to spread to the maximum number of people; but nobody told you that you would have to network, and network so extensively. Fret not, building and maintaining a business network looks harder from the outside than it actually is. And slowly but surely you can get business-to-business networking right, even if you not a natural extrovert.

Here are our handpicked 8 tips, commandments if you may, that can help you navigate this terrain smoothly.

#1 Build healthy working relationships

Remember, it’s not about selling. Not initially, at least. You must focus on building a relationship first. Establish levels of comfort where the other person does not view you as a business predator but looks forward to interacting with you. Be genuine and look for ways in which you can help the other person without pushing your agenda.

Once the groundwork is done, you will very often find that the opposite party is willing to endorse you without you even having put forth such a request. Takes away the awkwardness of asking for help, now doesn’t it?

#2 Leverage existing networks to make fresh contacts

If cold calling isn’t your cup of tea, look for ways in which you can use your existing coterie to expand your business network. Try not to reach out to the new contact directly but ask for a reference. Explain why you need the introduction and allow the value that you will bring, to come through.

Building a network is vital to your business. However, it is equally important to be a connector too. This makes you come across as a genuinely helpful and resourceful person. And the two people you connect will be thankful.

#3 Regularly attend networking events

Participate in networking events; go with a colleague or a friend if you know nobody there. It helps get a foot in. However, be absolutely clear on what your reasons for the network meet are. Are you there to learn a new skill, or make contacts, or is it a volunteer group?

Once you get comfortable in the group, split up from your partner. Walk around, mingle. Smile. Speak at these meetings. Ask more questions and talk less about yourself. Offer to take up a volunteer position. All this makes you visible, and very soon it is the others who will seek you out.

#4 Focus on conversations

For people to open up to you, you must learn to ask open-ended questions. Chuck those clichés of ‘so, what do you do’. Instead, focus on the who, what, when and why.

Give your complete attention to the person that you’re talking, and you will have a great conversation. Nod your head; give visual and audio responses; reiterate what they said so that you retain the most valued piece of information.

#5 Overcome the fear of rejection

Do you know the most common fear? No, not public speaking, although it does rank quite up there. It’s the fear of rejection.

When you approach a new contact or a potential business association, always have an end goal in mind.

Remember, you are under no obligation to close a deal. Instead, use the networking as an opportunity to invest in yourself and your business.

#6 Master the art of exiting a conversation

Do not monopolize anyone’s time at a networking event and don’t let the same happen to you, learn to disengage a conversation politely. You can excuse yourself by saying you see someone that you would like to say hello to. Or you say that you would love to continue meeting more people. The easiest and most reliable method, which no one can deny you, is to say that you have to go to the restroom.

#7 Improve your brand visibility and image

It is important that you get seen at these networking meets. The only way is to mingle, mingle, and mingle. Be the first to volunteer, speak up, hold forth witty conversations, etc.

#8 Extend a follow-up invitation

And finally, you should have a follow-up plan for re-connecting with those who you met. A quick hello and a brief recap of your time with them is what you need. Follow-up with them within a week while the meeting is still fresh in their mind. You never know when an opportunity is just waiting to be made the most of.

The only way to network in business is to get out there and meet people. Build new, strong relationships, and set up your own formidable network of contacts.

Marketing 101: How to Organically Build a Brand in a New High-Growth Category

Business How To’s

20 January 2020

Marketing 101: How to Organically Build a Brand in a New High-Growth Category

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Embarking on the journey of building a brand – especially one that belongs to a relatively new category – is no child’s play. It entails bridging the existing gaps in the sector while staying true to the brand vision. The competition may be significantly low, but so is the general awareness around the category. And this is where the challenge lies.

With renewed focus on flexibility, mobility & suiting the work preferences of the millennial workforce, most companies are adapting Coworking spaces. As per a Colliers International Report 2019l, the big jump in expansion has been in the last five years, between 2014 and end of 2018, where the number of flexible workspace sites expanded by +205% while the number of operators expanded by +138%The growth potential of the category is undoubtedly enormous, but how does one build the brand is a question that hovers around.

Here are the 5 steps of organically building a brand in a high-growth and new category.

Positively impact the stakeholders

Coworking spaces naturally have multiple stakeholders – landlords, brokers, tenants& own employees. Starting with the direct stakeholders is the most reasonable way of going forward as it gives one the leverage of word of mouth. It is a synergistic partnership where each stakeholder has a crucial role to play and reap benefits in return. For example, the landlord will only gain if more people opt for the coworking space. Again, the greater the number of tenants, the more popular the coworking space is likely to become. This in turn adds value to the tenant’s office location while also providing greater networking opportunities. It’s imperative that each employee/staff of the coworking space becomes a brand custodian & delivers as per the brand promise to the stakeholders at every step of the way.

Identify the high-impact touchpoints

Customers are everything to a brand; they are the reason the brand exists in the first place. Hence, identifying the right touchpoints is an integral part of brand building. For a coworking space to grow its brand, leveraging cost-effective yet highly impactful touchpoints is the key. Office buildings are the most effective to grab attention of office goers. Attention seizing building facades & signages at the entrance never go unnoticed and serve as high visibility touchpoints. While having hoardings and signages at prime locations can do the trick, there’s nothing cheaper and effective than online engagement, which brings us to the next step.

 Focus on real conversations/engagements online

The target audience for most coworking spaces is millennials, which is why a strong social media presence is crucial. Creating the brand’s own niche and building a community on social media can go a long way in ensuring maximum engagement.  For example, sharing relevant content and latest industry news, celebrating members’ successes, covering and promoting brand events, and raising awareness around causes close to the brand are highly effective in creating a conversation and building a community. It also goes on to show that the brand cares about its customers, thereby boosting brand image and presence.

Effectively use PR

A good public relations campaign is the backbone of building a strong brand image across offline and online channels. The PR campaign should essentially aid the brand’s objective of creating a niche. PR can be used as a robust tool to build thought leadership and establish a strong recall value. It is important to ensure that PR communications are consistent across all channels to achieve maximum impact.

Build brand partnerships

Affiliate marketing has been around for years and is one of the primary ways to drive traffic and generate sales. Coworking spaces can leverage this to reduce cost per lead while benefiting from the partner brand’s customer base & brand reputation.

Establishing tie-ups with brands by offering value to their customers through discounts on products/services is the right way. Coworking spaces can partner with BFSI companies, business hotels, retail brands, cab providers, etc. to delight customers on both sides. When done right, it also reflects brand’s genuine care for customers.

Coworking spaces are seeing a steady rise, thanks to incredible technological advancements and a shift in work cultures towards more flexible schedules. And if their branding game is top-notch, the opportunities to grow are tremendous.

The New Age Business Leaders’ Guide to New Year Resolutions

Business How To’s

26 December 2019

The New Age Business Leaders’ Guide to New Year Resolutions

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Come December, and the unmistakable buzz of the season is ‘New Year Resolutions’. It is that time of the year when many of us make plans to change for the better – both in our personal and professional lives. And business leaders are no exception to this tradition. However, as a new-age business leader, what should feature on your list of 2020 resolutions?

Here are our top picks:

Fail without fear

While risk-taking is part of the package in the world of business, start-ups and especially younger entrepreneurs are considered to be more financially fragile and risk-averse. New Year is the perfect occasion to bring about a change.

Every failure is but a disguised opportunity for learning and growth. Through creativity, trial and error, there will be subsequent victories. Let 2020 be the year when we fail without fear when we learn our lessons and chart new success stories.

Take radical responsibility

Every workspace has its own challenges. However, unconventional work environments call for progressive leadership qualities. Creating a harmonious and healthy work environment, particularly in the intimacy of a coworking set-up, demands radical responsibility towards clear and effective communication. This can be a small step towards changing the dynamics of your company culture.

By assuming radical responsibility, you take mindful action. As a new age business leader can you respect the strengths of the millennial generation, while also understanding their weaknesses? In 2020, let the emphasis be on productive discourses and constructive conversations. Unlike conventional offices, the open-door policy of a coworking set-up offers a fertile ground for a healthy exchange of ideas and robust professional relationships.

Foster learning

Complacency and disinterest are most frequently bred where there is a lack of learning, growth or active development. Success can only be guaranteed in a culture that fosters learning. So, it’s important to engage and retain employees with valuable programmes in relevant skills training.

In 2020, don’t just empower your company with tools and resources that they need to improve themselves, but also make them appealing. If you already have a programme, see if there are ways in which you can expand it further or make it more relevant to your team. The bonus? Invested employees and lower attrition.

Invest in self-care

Self-care is arguably the most under-rated leadership quality. Virgin Group founder Richard Branson says he finds kitesurfing therapeutic as well as a great way to stay in shape. In 2020, take inspiration from some of the world’s most successful leaders, by eating a life-enhancing diet and prioritizing regular exercise. Find yourself a physical and mental activity that enriches the quality of your life.

Sustainable leadership comes from the ability to take care of your own health. Whether it’s getting adequate sleep or taking up a sport to stay physically and mentally agile or taking a much-needed digital detox once a month in the coming New Year, new age leaders must lead by example. After all, a new age leader is someone who is versatile with his or her range of skills that go beyond official designations, hierarchies, geographies, and functions. It requires one to be at the front line of action to be able to foresee change, adapt and benefit from it.

In conclusion

We have kept the technology out on purpose. We know that new age leaders are tech-obsessed and that digital future promises to be the ultimate key for infinite scalability. However, we are looking beyond tech – because that gets updated regularly.

Happy New Year!

Why coworking is one of the best things that can happen to SMEs

Business How To’s

11 December 2019

Why coworking is one of the best things that can happen to SMEs

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

When coworking spaces were first founded about a decade ago, the intent was to support independent workers within an organized set-up. However, over the years, this idea has progressed into a community space that encourages collaborative working for learning and growth.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are a crucial component of the economy, vital for its survival. And like a caped crusader to the rescue, coworking spaces have ensured an equal footing for SMEs in the face of competition from large businesses. Here are three important advantages that coworking spaces offer SMEs:

Scalability and agility

Coworking spaces facilitate quick changes in infrastructure scale to match business volatility. A majority of coworking spaces offer monthly rental plans rather than the long-term leases as offered by traditional office spaces. This monthly plan can be modified according to the performance of your business. You have the flexible option to upgrade or downgrade, i.e., increase or decrease the number of workstations you hire based on your needs.

Long-term leases are binding, cumbersome and not the ideal option for start-ups or SMEs. Without having to worry about such commitments, SMEs can focus on short-term rental expenses, on a month-to-month basis. When the monthly cash flow is not a fixed number, coworking spaces offer office space arrangements that can be adjusted as per your cash flow.

Hiring young talent

For most SMEs, hiring is a huge challenge given that they are not known brands, nor do they have the appeal of start-ups. However, coworking spaces help increase their accessibility, visibility and brand value for job aspirants.

The strategic location of most coworking spaces – often in Commercial Business Districts (CBDs) – help attract young talent who, typically, prefer the brand value of a big company or the exposure of a startup. That apart, coworking spaces with their cross-section of professionals also offer young job aspirants the opportunity to network. This unlocks the promise of endless possibilities for young professionals, who are inspired by the agile and collaborative environment at coworking spaces.

Cost-effectiveness

In an age where renting out furniture, household appliances and even clothes is commonplace, no one wants to pay through their noses for amenities. As far as coworking spaces are concerned, the most value comes from the provision of access to the amenities. The easy functionality of coworking spaces eliminate the need for SMEs to make large capital investments in terms of rentals, housekeeping and the like.

Included into the cost of many coworking space are the advantages of refreshments like coffee, tea, snacks, and office supplies. Additionally, the rental also covers use of costlier items such as printers, online platforms, and other utilities, which need to be upgraded quite often owing to technology changes. Therefore, when it comes to expanding your business operations to other cities and markets, you can simply hire professionals that operate out of a coworking space. This is far easier on the pockets than setting up a new office in a traditional commercial space.

Conclusion

The evolving workplace, in the form of coworking spaces, aid in providing the right resources and infrastructure for SMEs that account for nearly 40% of India’s workforce. With their philosophy of collaborative learning and work that nurtures productivity and creativity, coworking spaces create the perfect environment for business growth.