Networking is a highly effective way to build relationships for your company. Not only can it help you find new clients, but you may also meet new business partners or others who can help you grow your enterprise. It can open a tremendous amount of opportunities to you, and for most professionals today, it is necessary in order to succeed.
Networking is a key element of branding and marketing, but it can seem awkward, especially for introverts. If you are new to networking, it can also be difficult to find the best places or times to meet new people. Learning some best practices can help you save time and effort while making the most of your new connections.
Where Should I Network?
Networking Events and Mixers
These events allow you to easily meet people within their industry or to connect with professionals outside of it. Some events are formatted in a “speed-dating” style while others allow attendees to mix freely. Try focusing on the connections you have a good rapport with and learn more about how you can help each other. This can help your contact better remember you.
When to Network: Check local trade organizations to see when they are hosting one, and make sure it is suited to the kind of connections you want to make.
Chamber of Commerce Events
These are often organized by industry and may include lectures or speeches. These events allow you to meet with professionals in your industry who are active in your community. This could also be a stepping stone to obtaining a position on your local Chamber, which could present you with incredible networking opportunities.
When to Network: These events might be held monthly or quarterly, so be sure to take advantage of them.
Social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and more allow you to reach out to potential contacts regardless of distance. You could have easy access to a far more diverse pool of contacts than you could encounter at a typical mixer. However, given the ease of making connections online, many also prove to be fragile.
When to Network: Liking, sharing and commenting on someone's posts can help to break the ice. Over a period of time, this could lead to a genuine connection, and is much more effective than randomly messaging someone.
- It’s important not to drive new connections away with too much communication. Write them a greeting message and write to them every few months with updates.
- You can make new connections when someone in your network posts a new piece of content such as a blog or a video. Use that opportunity to engage with the content and with other users who may comment on it.
- If you are publishing new content, try to post it when many of your contacts are online. This will increase your visibility and will make it more likely that you will gain new connections from your effort.
Maximizing Opportunities from Unexpected Places
Sometimes the best connections are made in places you’d least expect. The gym, a dog park or your favorite restaurant are all great places to strike up conversation. A connection made in a relaxed setting could be stronger than one made for purely professional reasons. You may also find that your new connection presents new opportunities you hadn’t considered previously.
When to Network: Whenever you notice a similarity in interests, it’s a good time to try to network. However, if your potential connection doesn’t seem interested, simply move on to the next one.
- Don’t interrupt someone’s conversation to network with them. Wait until they are finished before introducing yourself or you could turn them off from you.
- Find a natural way to give someone your contact information. Hand them a business card when it seems natural in the conversation and they will be more likely to remember you and establish a connection.
Networking can be an exciting way to grow your business while making new personal and professional connections. Make sure they remember you and partner with SILKCARDS to create unforgettable business cards to give to every one of your new contacts.