In any business, you’ll find that networking plays a role. No matter the industry, businesses need networking to make sales, form necessary partnerships, and maintain healthy yearly growth. Though with the rise of online networking, what are best practices for modern networking?
Be it online or in-person, networking groups and events can significantly influence your business’s growth in due time. To ensure that you make the most of these groups and events, we’ve gathered a list of networking basics to follow step-by-step. Consider these tips when planning out your networking strategy, and contact KWSM for help navigating the world of networking.
Join Relevant Business Groups
First and foremost, join LinkedIn groups that make sense. If you’re in IT sales, join the IT Managed Services group to join discussions that speak to your industry. As a junior copywriter, I recently joined the Copywriter Networking Group so that I’m in the loop on current trends, industry disruptions, and so forth.
Many local business groups, such as chambers of commerce, offer events such as luncheons, guest speakers, and more to spark up networking opportunities between members. Through both online and offline networking groups, you can stay connected with your industry and keep up with high level conversations once you’re face-to-face with a potential referral partner.
Get Yourself Noticed
Once you’ve involved yourself in a local networking group, it’s time to make yourself visible. Attend any networking breakfasts, lunches, or conferences that make sense for your industry, and make sure to go alone. It may be tempting to bring along a friend or colleague, but this can hinder you from stepping outside of your comfort zone.
Instead of isolating yourself with someone you already know, arrive solo, circulate the venue, and make introductions to your contacts of interest – just be sure not to limit yourself by spending too much time on one person.
Flex Your Curiosity
Remember the phrase, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question”? While you’ll still want to ask educated questions within these networking groups and events, inquiring as much as possible will label you as a good listener. Plus, you could end up learning something invaluable to your business. Start by asking other professionals about their unique challenges – this gives them the chance to fill you in on their business and experience, and opens the conversation for potential partnerships down the line. In essence, asking questions will reflect genuine interest and curiosity to your new networking group.
Follow-Up with New Acquaintances
Without a follow-up, all of those introductions and questions will have been for nothing. Whether it be through an email, a phone call, or a handwritten letter, use any notes you gathered to inform your communications – and be sure to personalize your reach-outs. If you’re templating out your emails and forget to switch the name, it could give off a lazy impression. Take notes wherever you go on your contact’s business card, and jot down a couple discussion notes to start the conversation out on the right foot. This is potentially the most important of these networking basics, since failing to follow-up demeans all of your prep work.
Refer to Your Heart’s Content
Now that you have a wider networking net to work with, try to identify beneficial business referrals. Making referrals between new associates is an excellent way to build trust, since it doesn’t directly benefit you. Rather, it establishes you as a person who offers value to his network in ways other than your business, products, or services. Reaching this point is the ultimate goal, since your successful referrals won’t go forgotten, and will likely spark referrals of your own in the future. Join your groups, enter the conversation, and nurture the professionals you have the pleasure of meeting – it’s sure to pay off in the long haul.
80% of Professionals Correlate Networking with Success
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