The Internet has been around for decades, and search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, and DuckDuckGo can help you find what you need, right? As a buyer, the Internet allows you to business networksearch and find resources to fulfill your business requirements, while also serving as a handy research tool that enables you to learn more about certain companies before deciding if you want to do business with them. As a seller, it provides another outlet for you to market your products and services and find new business so you can ensure your company stays in business for years to come. But just how much time and effort is needed to get this just right and have it pay off?

Why is it that more and more businesses both small and large are using cloud and e-commerce platforms to improve and advance their sales, marketing, and online businesses rather than just settling for the standard Web listing? Do they see being part of a massive online index as no different than the electronic version of the good old Yellow Pages—tedious, static, and uber boring?

First of all, there is the online shopping trend that started years back… allowing consumers to quickly find products with best pricing and shipping terms all in the comfort of their home and personal space. People like simplicity, familiarity, and ease, so when they go to work and they’re faced with a big sourcing project, they want to be able to do the same thing. Likewise, as sellers, it’s important to be where your customers are! If folks are turning to online storefronts to find what they need, then as a competitive business that aspires to have continuing sales growth and be a market leader, these businesses will need to set up online catalogs, a consumer-friendly website, and establish online capabilities that will facilitate seamless electronic commerce.

Secondly, business professionals are catching on. They’re learning that online business networks provide a more structured cloud environment that is far more different and powerful than just the Web-based, open Internet approach. It allows for a global, e-commerce marketplace that provides granularity to cater to the individual and cuts out the irrelevant noise that is experienced through typical online web browsing. It also aggregates market data and insights and provides a common platform with access to information on the buyer and seller to connect based on very specific criteria. More importantly, it allows buyers to ask sellers “can you help me?” and, likewise, it gives the sellers the opportunity to educate and offer their products, services, and solutions to these buyers to help meet their needs on a more personal level of doing business.

Thus, comes my third point. That fact that business networks not only help businesses better connect with new customers more easily, it also plays a huge role in enabling small to medium-size companies to grow bigger and compete globally with the big boys. Those that operate small or medium-size businesses understand that one of the biggest challenges businesses face is competing with larger suppliers who have a large marketing budget, higher brand awareness, and nationwide or even global market presence. It is very difficult for these companies to find new business, as lead generation efforts become too costly and time consuming. But as business networks continue to evolve into the B2B world, this definitely changes the playing field. Look at the success story of Kris Hart from LLT Bar Code & Label – whose first experience with business networks led him to win a $400K, two-year contract which generated a better return on investment (ROI) than any other marketing channel they have used in the past. Check out the recent podcast on the Briefings Direct Network to hear Hart discuss the shift toward using online lead generation tools and the business network to instantly gain access to targeted buyers around the world.