Most articles about succeeding and growing your business are focused on what you know. Of course, this is important as you can’t be clueless in the industry you have chosen if you want to thrive. However, it’s not just what you know that will put you on the path to success, but who you know as well. That is those people in your network that you can contact when you need help, support, information, or even a foot in the door. With that in mind, anyone looking to succeed in the business world needs to have a stellar network of connections. Something you can find out more about building in the post below.
Sure, it’s obvious! Yet some people are still ignoring the power and reach of social media for making network contacts online. In fact, the great thing about social media is that you can connect with people that share your interests from all over the world. Something that will help you stay informed of global trends and can provide you opportunities in international markets as well.
Of course, to optimize the way social media networking works for you, you absolutely need to do it right. This means picking the right platform first, something that many people choose to use Linked In for. After all, it is specially set up to be for business people and professionals.
In fact, the whole idea of Linked In is that it is one big business network that you can integrate yourself within by setting up and completing your profile. You can even get feeds on the latest news and jobs in your sector as well. This being a feature that can make networking online very efficient and streamlined.
Attend meetups IRL.
It’s not just finding people with whom to connect online that can boost your network either. In fact, IRL situations are just as, if not more critical than they ever were. After all, anyone can make themselves sound great online. However, it’s only by meeting a person in real life that we get a true sense of who they are, and whether we can work with them.
Happily, there is a range of professional situations in which to expand your network, including conferences, trade shows, and exhibitions. There are even events like meetups now that are designed specifically to help people that attend them to expand their network.
Of course, just as you have to make the right approach to a potential contact online, IRL it’s no different. In fact, it can help a lot if you have a flexible but clear plan of action for these events. Such a plan should include whom you wish to target as your next contacts, preferably in order of importance. This being something that means you won’t get stuck talking to the person in the booth next to you and wasting precious time.
Additionally, having a short or elevator pitch ready and practiced can help a lot, especially if you are the kind of person whose mind goes blank under pressure. Just make sure that it doesn’t sound too rehearsed as that can put ponytail new contacts off.
You’ll need to check that you have packed a good supply of your business cards as well. After all, collecting these is what many of the attendees will be doing. Therefore, if you can make reference to something in the design, it can help them to remember you and your conversation, so allowing you to stand out from the crowd.
Work the qualification angle.
Next, do not forget that one of the best places to make valuable contacts for your network is when studying in the industry in which you work. In fact, when it comes to higher-level college courses such as the ones offered from Rutgers University, there are a wealth of networking options to explore. It’s not just the other students that can be helpful either!
In fact, you will often find that the tutors and professors teaching in a university situation are active within the industry they tutor in. What that means is that they are engaged in doing research and writing papers and so have a rich network, and are well known themselves. Something that can help you to expand your reach within a particular sector.
Of course, it’s always worth making contact and interacting with the other students on your course as well. Especially if it’s an industry niche, as they are likely to be work with the field leaders, and so can prove useful contacts over the long term.
Position yourself as an expert & offer value to your contacts.
Another smart way to expand your business network is to position yourself as an expert within your field. In fact, by doing this, people will be seeking you out rather than the other way around.
Happily, this isn’t too difficult to do as many people blog about the fields they currently work in. In fact, sites such as Linked in actively encourage this, and can help you climb to the deposition of expert very quickly. Of course, the key here is to offer something of value to those that are following your work. With information being the primary commodity that an expert will have to offer.
You don’t just have to provide this information in the form of blog posts either. In fact, there is a myriad of other types of content and interactions you can try too, including hosting webinars, making videos, and podcasts. You can even start wikis or chat rooms if they are used by people in your field. All of which will help to cement your position as an expert and attract lots of new contacts regularly.
Referrals are useful.
Referrals are also something that can be incredibly beneficial when it comes to networking. After all, it’s unlikely that you will know every single, key person in your field of expertise. Luckily, by being referred to such a person, you won’t be approaching them cold. Something that means they are much more likely to give you the time of day and allow you to make a genuine connection with them.
However, to gain a referral to another contact, you will have to convince the mutual acquaintance to introduce you. Whether that is IRL or online. What this means is that it is essential to treat everyone you come across with kindness. Even if it is not immediately apparent that they may be of use to your business career.
After all, you never know whos is tucked away in their network. Therefore it’s always worth investing a little time to help people where you can, as you won’t know where it could lead until you try!
Don’t stress about rejections.
Finally, when it comes to building your network of business contacts, not everybody will be on board, and that’s OK. In fact, rejections are par for the course when you are reaching out and attempting to make a connection with people.
To that end, you really don’t have to worry so much about rejection or even people ignoring you. With the proviso that you aren’t getting any feedback about being too pushy, or approaching people in the wrong way.
In fact, if you don’t experience at least some rejection when expanding your network, you’re not targeting enough people! To that end, get on your computer, and get out there in the real world and start meeting people and building your network. You never know what advantage they could bring!