Networking lies at the heart of partnership building
Networking: Its Value to Tourism By Bruce Dickson, Tourism Development Solutions Building business through networking   The value of networking to tourism is now widely recognized, but given the industry's constant day to day, operational & time demands, its virtues as a development and growth strategy can easily be overlooked.   And successful networking is not only a great marketing and customer growth tool, it also lies at the heart of successful industry partnership generation. Networking has already proved to be an essential tool for 'not for profit' tourism attractions, but even this industry sector could benefit from the extra opportunities opened up by e.g. 'wildcard networking' initiatives (explained below) or more strategic and finely targeted networking programs pursuing clearly defined corporate goals. Investigating the value of 'staff networks' is a further option. The effectiveness of the 'not for profit' sector can often also be enhanced by more actively (and directly) drawing upon their memberships' goodwill and wider social & political influence and links. This resource paper revisits some of the basics of networking. 1. Networking with your community Opening up new partnership opportunities Successful local networking with government, business colleagues and the wider community is founded on maintaining mutual respect and building happy and productive personal relationships. Promoting inclusiveness and avoiding stereotyping also greatly helps. Community networking activities can often open up significant new partnership and project development opportunities.  
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Economic development benefits More often than not, this process can help identify new business, marketing, supply & investment opportunities for tourism operators and/or their broader tourism destinations. Including more ways to buy local & fresh. Enhanced regional economic development is a further likely outcome  (particularly when the process is well conceived and properly managed, with a more strategic approach adopted). Casting a wider net The wider the preliminary community network established, the more potential doors of opportunity opened up and accessed. (Including additional networks of likely value.) Networking is based on different zones of contact, which can be readily widened.  'Word of mouth' outcomes The level of goodwill developed closely connects to the value placed by the community on you and your business. An appreciative and supportive local community are the best possible source of powerful, all important 'word of mouth' publicity. 'Wildcard' networking Networking initiatives do not always have to be limited to tapping into the most logical and seemingly relevant of your potential new contacts (i.e. people and organizations).  Sometimes exploring some 'less immediately obvious', wildcard initiatives can pay off handsomely. Your own vision and needs and theirs may connect in an unexpected, mutually beneficial way, that only becomes evident as a result of bothering to make contact and explore the potential for a relationship in the first place. Tapping into an existing local network of capable community arts and craft practitioners for new creative outcomes, skills &  ideas is just one example here. [...]
“Often wildcard networking can pay off in unexpected, mutually beneficial ways."
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