Some people love networking, and for others, it’s just a chore. However, you feel about it, though, networking is an essential part of business and being successful in the business world. If you’re not the type of person who feels comfortable walking over to a stranger and giving your business card out at a ‘networking event’ then don’t worry because there are several different ways to network and some you’re probably already doing but don’t even realize it. If it’s something you need to do more of, then here are a few ways you can get started:
Yes, you can network online, and it’s not weird. You can be networking sitting on your sofa with your comfy clothes on and having a cup of tea if you want. While you might already be doing this on Linkedin by connecting with people, if you’re going to take it that one step further then don’t just connect with them, engage with them. Identify the people you want to connect with and like their posts, comment on their posts, and share them. You’ll soon become familiar to people, so if you send them a message (which you should), then it won’t be entirely out of the blue. There is more than just Linkedin though when it comes to networking online, there are also several online communities you can join, and it’s easy to have a look and see which ones are right for you before you commit to joining. Look for online communities with members who are in the same industry as you are or in a similar role as you. There are likely to be forums you can contribute to as well and also podcasts and training too you can benefit from too. Online communities are excellent ways of expanding your knowledge as well as expanding your network, so remember to be careful about what you post in conversations and make sure that you’re adding value to the conversation, recommending services, and showing your knowledge and expertise so that people will support you too. Once you have built up some online relationships, then you can take them to the next level and suggest that you meet offline.
Trade shows are a great way to meet people, and if you’re going to be attending as part of your marketing strategy anyway, then you might as well make the most of the networking opportunities that the show presents. While your stand and your trade show shelving and branding materials are essential, there will likely be networking events as part of the trade show so make sure you look at the show’s program beforehand and book anything you want to attend in advance. Make sure your team knows where you’ll be and when so that if other talks need to be covered someone can go to those and make sure there’s always someone on your stand if you’re exhibiting. If you’ve exhausted all the talks, networking drinks and speed networking, then you need to get yourself walking around that trade show floor and introduce yourself to people.
Joining a club doesn’t have to be related to work, but it doesn’t mean you won’t find someone who could become a friend and be worth knowing in business. Check sites like Meetup and if there’s not a group already on there that takes your fancy or nothing in your area, then create one yourself. You can’t go wrong on there either; there are so many things from weight loss groups to remote workers to people who want to go on holiday together, have a browse as you never know who you might meet.
Workshops are not only useful for increasing your knowledge on specific topics but also for meaning you’ll be in the same room as like-minded people. Workshops often involve working with other people or having conversations with other people on the workshop, so whether you want to or not, you end up meeting new people.
Although there’s not as a much talking time at a conference, they are still full of people, and you’ll know that you have something in common with them. There’s always a talking point too because you can discuss the speakers or the topic. Introduce yourself to people and see what happens. If you can find out who’s going to be there ahead of time, then reach out to someone beforehand and arrange to meet with them for a coffee.
Again this one might seem a little off key, but it is a great way to meet new people and to help people at the same time. There could be something associated with your industry, which you could volunteer for and meet prospective clients or business partners. Even if there isn’t something related, volunteering attracts all sorts of people, and expanding your network can never be a bad thing and neither can volunteering and helping people.
Before you ask anyone for anything, make sure you have something to offer them first. Go one better, when you are looking at people who you want to network with, don’t seek out people who could help you, seek out people who you could help. This is a great way to introduce yourself by offering your services or advice. Again, it’s about expanding your circle, and at first, it doesn’t matter how you do that. You need to have good intentions though and think about other people and not yourself; you need to have a good reputation for people to want to introduce you to others and to recommend you, so basically start by looking for friends and be a good friend.
Stay In Touch
Finally, there’s no point in making all these contacts once and then never speaking to them again, keep in touch with people with an email here and there and suggesting a meet up. You don’t have to need or want anything; it’s just good to check in, share information, and talk about what’s going on in your businesses.