How to Network Your Business
Networking is the best, most efficient way to grow a business and these tips will help you to network and develop new customers to grow your business. In short, networking is a means of interacting with people to share and exchange information to develop relationships, ideally to acquire new customers.
To be effective you need to determine which kinds of people matter the most and then decide the best ways to connect with them and then to engage them. A simple word of advice is that you deliver value to them before you ask anything from them.
Successful networking is about the ability to develop strong interpersonal skills, increasing your businesses brand awareness and discovering hidden possibilities that others have to offer.
Most people in business — from small business owners to executives at publicly traded companies — understand the importance of networking. That’s why thousands of networking events taking place everywhere you go. Whether you are a small business owner trying to make a name for yourself or a company executive working to establish and grow new and existing professional relationships, networking is a fundamental aspect of your job.
Unsurprisingly, networking often takes place outside of “normal” business hours, i.e. your “own time”. If you embrace this fact, you’ll find that there is a multitude of ways that you can network your business effectively. The following are five suggestions to get you started:
Attend local events in your city
Most people know that large cities have lots of networking events. This makes sense, since there are usually hundreds (if not thousands or tens of thousands) of people in the same (or related) industries. However, you don’t necessarily have to work (or live) in a large city to find networking events and opportunities. Even small cities — for example the suburb you commute from each morning — often have networking events hosted by the Chamber of Commerce or similar organizations. Best of all, these organizations are often more accessible, and the participants more receptive, than you might find in a busy, high-demand event in a big city.
Take Advantage of social media
Believe it or not, social media has become a viable — and in some cases essential — networking strategy for many business owners and in a growing number of industries. There are a number of significant advantages that platforms like Twitter offer, and arguably the biggest is the fact that you can literally reach a worldwide audience from your computer or smartphone. In addition, hashtags and other organizational tools on social media make it easier to find like-minded individuals, or even clients and customers.
Social media also works as a supplement to other networking strategies. For example, many conferences and industry events will utilize a hashtag or social media page — if it makes sense, you can post and reach out to others through that channel as well.
Get involved in charitable organizations
You don’t have to stick to events and conferences that directly relate to your industry. Getting involved in a charity or non-profit is a great way to meet people who have similar values as you, all while working to help a cause you both believe in. Find a charity that you feel passionate about, and the networking conversations you have will happen almost on their own!
Build long-term relationships as you network
You never know who could be a valuable networking asset at some point in the road. Whenever you meet someone, whether in a professional or personal setting, try to establish a relationship that can stand the test of time. Try not to alienate people, and if you think later find a mutually beneficial opportunity don’t be afraid to reach out.
Blogging is a great way for networking
Not everyone feels confident writing, or has the time to write in a blog on a regular basis, but if you have the time and ability, this is a great way to build a small following. If you can establish yourself as a thought-leader — or at least as someone with interesting things to say — you can network by letting people reach out to you simply because they want to share or comment on your thoughts.
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