The Kitchen and Bathroom Designers Institute sprouts networking as one of its key member benefits; we offer this broadly through our national and local chapter events, and more intimately at our member-only gatherings. What we have realised over the years, however, is that the value of business-to-business networking is not something that is always recognised. In this article, we’ve put together five good reasons for you to get clear about networking in 2020.

#1 Getting to Know your Reps
The number of products available in the kitchen and bathroom industry is abundant and ever-increasing. Having good relationships with your reps will help you keep ahead of this influx, and ensure you’re offering your clients the best products for their needs. Productive business-to-business relationships depend on strong two-way communication, and face-to-face liaison generally offers the most open and honest way to connect. Industry events allow you to meet new connections in an informal, social environment, and are an excellent way to build positive and fruitful relationships with product suppliers.

#2 Problem Solving and Trouble Shooting
If you’re not sure about a particular product application, or a product isn’t working out as planned, a designer who has ‘been there, done that’ could help get you on track in no time. Likewise, reps know their products and, in many cases, may have come across your dilemma previously – a ‘real-time’ conversation with your rep could save time, money and whole heap of hassle.

#3 Friendships & Mentoring
If you’ve ever attended a KBDi Symposium or Awards Gala, you’ll have noticed the comradery that exists between members, at both intra and inter-state levels. These genuine friendships make for fun times, but there’s a tangible business benefit, too: an ‘informal mentoring’ often takes place between friends in the same industry, and can be of immeasurable value for a designer taking on a new project outside of their ‘normal’ scope, or dealing with a difficult client and wondering how others would handle an issue. A friendship can peel away the ‘fear of competition’ and offer great opportunities for asking for (or offering) advice.

#4 New Work & Job Sharing
Building a network of industry peers can create a range of opportunities, from employment offers to design collaborations to work referrals – and plenty in between. Do you have a too-full calendar and new clients lining up impatiently? Imagine how easy it would be to say ‘no’ to a potential new client if you could refer him or her to another designer you personally know. On the flip side, if you could do with an extra job or two on your books, your design peers could be looking for someone to help!

#5 Positive Influence
You become who you associate with: we all know negative people can be a drain, but if you surround yourself with the right people, their attitudes and habits can be contagious! Modelling successful people is a proven way to improve your own performance, and face-to-face association is the best way to achieve this.

Of course, there are many more reasons to make business-to-business networking start working for you. If you’re already an advocate, what would you add to this list?

And if you have a ‘top tip’ for productive networking, we’d love to hear it so comment below.