Richard Branson: why you should network

The Virgin Founder tells us why succeeding in business is all about making connections and why almost every member of staff at Virgin must be well-versed in the art...

“For an entrepreneur, the ability to forge connections is a great asset. When you're conducting business in a field where you don't have specialist expertise, it's often the only way to get a job done right. When our team at Virgin wanted to go to space, I looked for the best engineer in the world to help us build a spaceship. Once we'd connected with Burt Rutan, creator of the revolutionary SpaceShipOne, we were able to get to work on creating Virgin Galactic,” writes Branson in his entrepreneur.com blog.

“Succeeding in business is all about making connections. While we at the Virgin Group have never hired anybody whose job description was limited to making internal and external contacts, it is implicit that almost everyone on staff has these skills. This has helped Virgin to expand into so many different industries, from music to mobile phone services: As we build connections in other areas, we have been able to grow our expertise and multiply our reach.”

Business is all about personal contact. No matter how heavy your workload is... everyone can and should be a networker.

These rich networking ability has been a constant feature in the history of Virgin, with the group’s oldest and youngest businesses all benefitting from a swift ability for employees to forge strong working relationships.

“Business is all about personal contact. No matter how heavy your workload is, do not allow yourself to work in your cubicle or office all day, every day - for your own well-being and the health of your business, you need to get out and about, meeting people and developing relationships. If you discuss a work matter with an employee or a potential client over coffee rather than simply sending over an email, you're more likely to build rapport, which will be useful if you ever need to tackle any problems together. Good managers give their teams the freedom to set their own schedules, realizing that the same is true of employees' relationships with their co-workers and the company's clients,” explains the Virgin Founder.

“That said, you can also make great connections while sitting at your desk. Through social media, you can get in touch with almost anyone, and then connect in the real world as well. Just recently, a 12-year-old business studies student sent me an email asking for some tips, and I spotted her note and wrote back. These days, the only thing stopping you from building up your network is how much time you dedicate to it. Everyone can and should be a networker.”

Have you got any interesting tales from your time networking? Maybe you have some tips to share? If so, let us know below. Alternatively check out these easy to follow tips in this snappy video guide.

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