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Business Networking Predictions for 2010

Many are looking ahead to what they want 2010 to bring their business

2009 is over (a relief to most) and many are looking ahead to what they want 2010 to bring their business. Knowing that networking is essential to this year's business plans, Dr. Ivan Misner, www.IvanMisner.com, founder and chairman of Business Networking International (BNI), and co-author of Networking Like A Pro: Turning Contacts into Connections with David Alexander and Brian Hilliard, offers the following business networking forecasts/tips for 2010:

  • This will be a better year. "The economy IS going to improve. Look for opportunities. Focus on what you do best. You will have a better year, but you need to focus on solutions and get out of the quagmire of problems," says Misner. "While this isn't a 'networking' issue, it is important- have faith."
  • Online social networks will continue to grow in prominence. No crystal ball needed for this one. However, consider this: digital schmoozing may continue to grow, but so will the frustration over how to convert that technology into viable business opportunities. This is an emerging field, and much of it will be established over the next few years.
  • Companies, small and large, need to create a social media strategy. What's your plan? Don't have one? Big mistake in 2010. You need to start working on one now. Don't know where to start? Do a little research. There are some really good experts out there who can help you in this area. Find one that can help your business create a strong, cutting-edge social media strategy.
  • Victims of downsizing will become active in networking groups (both face-to-face and online). Misner explains, "Many people have been laid off. My experience in running BNI is that within a few months of an increase in unemployment rates, there is almost always an influx of new members into networking organizations. I am confident that there will be such an influx in 2010."
  • We will begin to see more of integration between face-to-face and online networking opportunities. Online networks will do things to promote face-to-face opportunities, and face-to-face networks will begin to integrate online networking more effectively into their programs.
  • We will see the slow death of the "one-way" website. More and more, companies will create websites that operate in two directions. They will not only provide information to their customers but will also seek feedback from their customers. Blogs, interactive newsletters, social network sites, consumer feedback groups, etc. will continue to grow in importance for companies.
  • Face-to-face networks will continue to grow. Misner asserts, "This is true, IF they stay true to a fundamental mission of helping people grow their businesses. Nothing beats networking in person."
  • Companies that succeed in 2010 will remain agile and will focus on relationships. Technology is a tool. Relationships are king when it comes to networking. Companies who are creative in using tools to enhance the relationship building process will be the leaders in a company networking program.

Ivan Misner, Ph.D., www.IvanMisner.com, is the founder and chairman of BNI, a business networking organization, www.bni.com. He has written eleven books including three New York Times bestsellers. He has been featured in the L.A. Times, Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times, as well as numerous TV and radio shows including CNN, CNBC. He is the co-author of Networking like a Pro: Turning Contacts into Connection, available at all fine bookstores and online booksellers, with authors David Alexander and Brian Hilliard.

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