No man is an island, as the saying goes. Well, it’s none of your business! For your business to be successful, you need to build relationships with people. These connections can help you attract leads, attract paying customers, and make your business a success. To be successful, you should know how to network yourself so that you can build long-term professional relationships.
But networking is both an art and a science. You need to get creative, but also be strategic and have a plan. So how do you network properly? Here are seven tips to help you:
7 ways to network more effectively
Networking is about building and maintaining relationships. In other words, your work doesn’t stop after you get this valuable contact information. These tips will help you make connections and grow them into lasting relationships.
Ready? Let’s begin!
1. Think about people, not their positions
Don’t make the mistake of choosing the people you want to connect with based on their job title. While knowing the CEOs in your industry is helpful, it doesn’t mean that you should ignore people in other roles. Any person you meet can be a potential lead or someone who can promote your brand. Plus, you never know – that person you’ve exchanged numbers with may just be the CEO one day!
Of course, you have to be strategic. When attending a networking event, plan who to talk to. But don’t be a snob. Building good relationships with everyone, regardless of their position, is good for business and good for your reputation.
2. Offer an opportunity to help
Every good relationship is about give and take. You can’t expect your connections to help you without receiving something from you. A healthy relationship is mutually beneficial.
So help where you can. It doesn’t even have to be business related. Maybe that person you met at an event is looking for a place to have dinner and they know where to get the best steak. Perhaps your new connection is looking for somewhere to stay in New York and you know a great hotel at an affordable price.
Your new contacts will appreciate these little things you do for them. The next time you need help, don’t hesitate to do the favor.
3. Before asking for help, establish a relationship
Don’t ask for help from someone you’ve just met. You must get to know them first and have invested the time and effort in maintaining the relationship.
After exchanging contact information, keep in touch from time to time. Take them out for lunch when they’re in town. Comment on her latest blog post. Show them that you really care about keeping the relationship going. When you are comfortable, you can ask a favor and be sure that they will help you if they can.
4. Use social media
According to Statista, over 3.4 billion people were social media users in 2020. And that number continues to grow.
There are many social media platforms that you can use for networking. LinkedIn is the largest professional network with 740 million members. You can search for people by name or by the company they work for.
Twitter is also a powerful networking tool. In fact, you can use almost any social media site for networking. The key is knowing how to use them properly.
First, send a connection request on LinkedIn. Explain who you are and why you want to connect with them. Perhaps you saw them speak at an event or read something they wrote. On websites like Twitter and Instagram, all you have to do is follow the person you want to reach.
Once you’ve established your social media connection, get started on your contact’s posts. Don’t forget to keep your own feed updated as well. Gently remind them that you exist. That way, when you need someone to do what you’re doing, you’ll be in the know.
5. Do your research before networking events
If you are attending a networking event, be sure to do your research to maximize your time there.
You can find information about event attendees in many ways. For example, you can ask the organizer in advance for a list of attendees. You can also follow the event’s hashtag on social media if you have one. Once you have your attendee list, google it or find it on LinkedIn and make a list of the people you want to network with.
Read their work and check out their social media channels. The idea is to know as much about them as you can so that you have something to discuss at the event.
6. Always follow up
It’s difficult to make a lasting impression on people at networking events. There are just too many people. And most of the time, there isn’t enough time to talk to everyone you want. This is why post-event follow-up is vital.
Send a follow-up email a day or two after the event to remind relevant people who you are and build on the connection. Reference something you’ve talked about or something memorable about yourself.
Never ask for a favor in your follow up. Again, you need to cultivate the relationship first before asking anything of your new contact. You can invite them over for coffee to continue your conversation or send them a link to an interesting article. Show that you haven’t forgotten your discussion and that you are interested in keeping the relationship going.
Before sending your follow-up email, make sure you give it a grammar check before sending it to avoid embarrassing typos.
7. Introduce people in your network
Introductions between relevant people can be a great way to start a conversation. For example, if you find out that your new contact has business with the company your friend works for, you may want to connect them when they haven’t met.
You can also recommend people if your contacts want to fill a vacancy. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. If all goes well, your connection will have a great new coworker and your friend will have a new job. And you? Well, you won brownie points from both of them.
But be deliberate in your recommendations. Just remember to have your name on the line when referring someone.
Successful companies are built on good relationships. But good relationships don’t just show up. They are sought, built and maintained. In other words, networking is critical.
However, networking is much more than just handing out business cards. It’s about give and take, adding value and maintaining contacts.
In this article, I’ve given you seven tips to take your network to the next level. With the time and effort you put in, you will soon begin building longstanding relationships that will make your business a success.
Photo credits: Jakob Dalbjörn; Unsplash