Most people don’t like networking. It can be awkward, it takes a lot of work, and it’s hard to put yourself out there. But there’s a reason that most successful entrepreneurs are also master networkers: it works. Networking is an essential business skill, and entrepreneurs that get it right reap the benefits. Want to know how you can leverage your network to grow your business? We share 6 secrets below.
Create an Action Plan
Whether you’re looking to find an awesome new hire, or score a big new client, creating a networking action plan can help you get there. Make a list of the people you know that could help you achieve your goal, why they’re important, and the strength of your relationship. This way you can focus your energy on getting help from the right people. When reaching out, be upfront about your plans and why you’re connecting.
Seek Quality, Not Quantity
Walking into a room full of strangers is overwhelming. But rather than feeling like you have to speak to absolutely everyone for networking success, focus on talking to a small handful of individuals. You’ll have more time to find common areas of interest, and as a result, build a stronger more meaningful connection.
Do A Little Sleuthing
If there’s a specific person that you’re really hoping to connect with, use social media to see if you have a contact that knows that individual directly. If not, see if you know someone who works at the same company. Essentially you’re leveraging your network to help you make an introduction. If you do find that you know people in common, be upfront about your reason for wanting to connect, and see if you can score an introduction at an upcoming networking event. It’ll help you stand out, and give you extra credibility.
If you’ve had a great conversation with someone, let them know! Don’t miss the opportunity to build a new relationship by failing to follow up. Reach out shortly after meeting, reference something that you spoke about, and, if you can, include something that helps the person out. An interesting article, or an offer of an introduction based on your previous in-person discussion are great little things to add in your follow up. Make a point to keep in touch with semi-regular contact in order to continue the relationship.
Coworking spaces can be great ways to build your network without feeling like you’re actively networking. And, unlike typical business organizations you’ll have the opportunity to work beside other entrepreneurs in completely different industries. Therefore coworking offers the unique chance to broaden your network and get to know people who can introduce you to a totally new branch of connections.
Look for Ways to Help Out
The single best way to connect with someone new is to help them. That’s right. Change the way you think about networking. Rather than seeking out people who you think can help you, look for ways that you can help others. It doesn’t need to be time consuming, but it should be relevant to the other person’s needs and help to keep the relationship moving forward. Are you interested in expanding your network? The Idea Room is a small coworking community that connects professionals, solopreneurs, and small businesses in Waterdown, Ontario by bringing them together under one roof. With member-only events, workshops, and as much free coffee and tea as you can drink, we make it easy to meet other professionals in the Hamilton area. Contact us to learn more.