Networking is an important part of modern business success. It isn’t just what you know; it’s who you know. Networking is all about connecting with people in your niche or industry that you can collaborate with or work meaningfully with in some way. Networking could lead to profitable projects and lucrative partnerships if you include it as part of your business growth strategy.
Here are some tips on how to network effectively.
1. Always Have a Business Card and Elevator Speech
Business cards may seem old-fashioned, but they are still an easy way to pass along your most important information to anyone you meet whom you think would be worth following up with. Your elevator speech should be no more than 30 seconds long. In it, explain who you are and what value you and your company offer to prospective customers or clients.
2. Collect Business Cards
Actively ask for their business cards as well. Make notes on the back about what you discussed so you can remember it and decide if they are a good fit for your business.
3. Attend Networking Events
Most people are pretty shy about attending in-person events, but they can be a gold mine when it comes to networking. Your local chamber of commerce, trade shows, and conferences are all ideal places to meet like-minded people who could be a perfect fit for your latest business growth goals.
4. Become a Public Speaker
Improve your public speaking skills so you will be invited to present at events such as conferences. Offer interesting and entertaining content, and there will always be people in the audience eager to get to know you better, and perhaps even pitch interesting business ideas to you.
5. Online Networking
Social networks are the obvious place to network, but not all sites are created equal.
LinkedIn is specifically for professionals, so it will be your best opportunity to connect both with old colleagues and potential new partners. Take the time to build a full profile. For each school, college and workplace, LinkedIn will then make suggestions about people you might know.
Be selective and start with people who might work in your niche or industry. Publish some articles to help position you as an expert in your field so that when people view your profile to approve the connection, you will look like someone worth knowing.
Facebook is another good option but be sure to use a business page, not your personal one. You can always invite your personal connections to the page if they are genuinely interested in your niche, but otherwise, stay focused on people you have the potential to work well with.
Also consider joining a popular niche-related Facebook group, or starting one yourself. All the content you post should be interesting and helpful, not constant spammy promotions. Allow yourself a ratio of one promotional post to 20 informational ones.
6. Work with Influencers
Influencer marketing is growing because it is a short-cut to tapping into large niche-related audiences. Network at Snapchat and Instagram with people in your niche who have a large following. Engage with their content in a helpful way in order to position yourself as an expert in your niche.
Gradually, mention a product or service you would like to sell. In many cases, the influencer will be happy to pass it along to their audience. They might even be interested in working with you on a project or joint venture.