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NETWORKING: The new way of doing business

The person who first said, "It's not who you know, but what you know," was obviously never forced to do business in Canada. This particular individual must have been fortunate in his dealings because in today's market using contacts as a resource is an indispensable practice of business.


Industry is often filled with those who can and those who wish they could. Each business has a hidden agenda of keeping those who can within their network of business associates. The most important factor becomes your ability to attract that individual to your network with something you have to offer. Then, the connection becomes one of practical acquaintance. Individuals, who can, rarely waste their time with those who have nothing concrete to offer and consequently, neither should you.

Today’s business environment necessitates a constant progression in every corner of your dealings; it is a never ending process. Although networking is often synonymous with corporate parties and financial cliques, industry has a great deal to gain from the sharing and discussion of ideas. With the importance of secrecy and confidentiality within business today, networking does not necessarily detract from the need for privacy. There are always individuals within industry that can make your life and business that much easier with the addition and explanation of a few simple processes. Your goal is to find that person or persons and make a mutually beneficial connection.

People of importance always have a barrage of less prominent individuals circling around trying to benefit from their knowledge and networking ties. Your objective is to track the person with the most influential alliance to the center and make the exchange needed. One rarely receives a second chance, so the first opportunity to ‘do business’ with the key player or even the network as a whole, will be closely scrutinized and dictate your ability to re-enter that network.

Make the first encounter a positive experience that clearly shows what you have to offer.
Occasionally, the individual you wish to focus on may not be completely readily apparent. The appropriate method of procedure would be to look at the network on a whole and single out the denominator who is common to all individuals in the network. Individuals who are highly influential usually enjoy a certain degree of anonymity and befriending them requires a greater degree of creativity.

For many years, there has been a negative connotation attributed to the use of networking as an unfair answer to a difficult situation. Remember, no one will help you if you have nothing to offer them. Your abilities will be used in return for the use of someone else’s; it is a simple quid pro quo exchange. The advantage comes from your ability to locate those individuals who are able to influence your business in the future. The process is not as simple as it may seem because it requires a great deal of time, thinking and foresight.

Foresight is a result of one’s ability to be proactive. Recognizing the need for a greater network of associates after a crisis arises is of little use to your business. Networking is a constant process that demands time and effort prior to needing access to those individuals. Relationship of familiarity and trust that are of any value to difficult situations are of the type that takes months and sometimes years to develop.

The practical application of such a network in business spans from the sharing of information with regards to technical design, production methodology, a communal effort and everything else in between to improve Canada’s position within the global market. Obviously, the avoidance of releasing trade secrets must be a priority; however, there are a number of practices that can be shared among industry businesses that can aid the development of the industry as a whole.

A working knowledge of those key individuals participating in Canadian industry as a whole can lead to fruitful ventures between organizations and result in more productive and prosperous relationships. Currently, many projects are left abandoned due to a lack of resources, both financial and technical. A more progressive industrial network of communications can greatly assist the progress of Canadian industry.

Opportunities are the key to success. This success, that everyone in business wishes to become a part of, requires an exposure to situations that no one single individual could discover working as one single individual. As the size and quality of your network grows, your ability to access the most critical prospects to your business grow at a rate exceeding that of your wildest expectations.

Mark Borkowski is president of Mercantile Mergers & Acquisitions, a mid market business brokerage working with Canadian business buyers and sellers. He can be contacted in (confidence) at mark@mercantilema.com or www.mercantilemergersacquisitions.com