2009 is almost over (and many are glad about that!), and it’s time to look ahead. I have before me my crystal ball. I am looking into the future, and this is what I see for 2010:

  1. First, the economy IS going to improve. OK, this isn’t a networking issue, but it IS important. Have faith. Look for opportunities. Focus on what you do best. You will have a better year next year, but you need to focus on solutions and get out of the quagmire of problems.
  2. Online social networks will continue to grow in prominence. OK, I didn’t need the crystal ball for that 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.
  3. Companies, small and large, need to create a social media strategy. What’s your plan? Oh . . . you 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. I’ve been working with Social Media Expert Mirna Bard this year, and she has really helped my organization create a strong, cutting-edge social media strategy that we are now pursuing globally
  4. Victims of downsizing will become active in networking groups (both face-to-face and online). Many people have been laid off. My experience in running BNI, the world’s largest networking organization, 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.
  5. We will begin to see more of an 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.
  6. 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 . . . all of these will continue to grow in importance for companies.
  7. Face-to-face networks will continue to grow, IF they stay true to a fundamental mission of helping people grow their businesses. Nothing beats networking in person (see my blog on this subject from earlier this year).
  8. 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.

Well, there it is. Those are my predictions for 2010. What do you think of these ideas AND what, if anything, would you add to these business networking predictions?

About the Author:

Called the father of modern networking by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times best-selling author. He is the Founder and Chairman of BNI (www.bni.com), the world’s largest business networking organization. His newest book, Networking Like a Pro can be viewed at www.IvanMisner.com. Dr. Misner is also the Sr. Partner for the Referral Institute, an international referral training company (www.referralinstitute.com).