You, like others, might be under the impression that networking is necessary to ask for favors. If this is true, it’s time to debunk the myth. In its purest form, networking entails forming long-term, trusted connections with other professionals. It’s about receiving help and supporting others in a variety of ways. It can be referring clients or customers, publicizing events, offering testimonials, training assistance, career counseling, sourcing reliable merchants, etc.
In a word, networking is about fostering mutually beneficial connections and not just trading business cards. When done gradually, networking in the genuine sense proves highly helpful over time, whether for personal or professional reasons. Hence, even if you think you are a lone wolf and do not need to network, start building one. Here are a few ideas to help you get started.
In the era of millennials, the fresh concept of having shared office space business practices has taken a big hit. Whether you are a freelancer, small business owner, or even a remote employer working for big corporations, renting a cubicle with experts from other industries is ideal for developing a network.
Your business partner or mentor might be sitting just across the room; all you have to do is approach them. You will also get the opportunity to meet and engage with experts from various disciplines, such as lawyers, designers, marketers, artists, etc.
2. LinkedIn profile
Having an active LinkedIn profile with the proper keywords and appealing headlines can accomplish the impossible. Business professionals are always searching for potential talent, and if they come across your profile that meets their skill requirements, consider your doors for opportunities opened.
3. Online communities
Another excellent approach to the network is to join online groups. It serves as a platform for you to share, get support, discuss, and receive severe criticism. You will be driven to interact and be consistent, which will benefit you in your professional years.
4. Social media
When used correctly, social media can be a powerful networking tool. However, you must treat it with the same seriousness that you do other network events and meetings. It is preferable to create a separate business account and keep your account private. Demonstrate your professionalism and experience. Engage your audience actively and follow the mindset set by growth influencers. Connect with others through their post’s comments. If you are selective, you will create a very professional network.
5. Building reputation
Professional connections are formed with people who are trustworthy, skilled, active, initiators, and valuable. It is critical to possess all of these traits to project a positive image of yourself. Allow your personality to come through in your conversational skills, intellectual discussions, and other pursuits. Maintain contact with them, interact with them by sharing helpful material, and listen to them. Show your enthusiasm, be interested, and give a compliment if necessary. All of these efforts will pay off in the long run.
6. Business events
Start visiting business events not just for the sake of it, but to have fun, network, relax, and learn new things. Your uneasiness will go, and you will be yourself, making genuine connections that will last longer.
Attending local business events organized in or even outside your city is also one way to interact with local businesses of your industry and join local communities. These communities can further be far more effective in terms of helping you in building a meaningful local network.
7. Break the ice
Approaching a stranger, let alone making a solid first impression, can be uncomfortable at times. It is essential to break the ice at such moments by complimenting their style, charisma, the way they carry themselves, or even their attire. Continue the conversation with them by inquiring about their perspectives on current industry challenges and similar topics.
8. Follow up
Building relationships is not enough; they must also be preserved. Connect with your network regularly by sending greetings at festivals, inviting them to a seminar, organizing a conference with them, calling them, and even planning a lunch or dinner.
9. Give back
You should not only accept help but also be resourceful. No, you don’t need to go to great lengths; simply introducing them to an influential person you know would suffice. Besides, helping them, offering your expert help, or giving them advice will ensure that they stay in touch with you. They will be delighted and grateful, so do help whenever possible.
You now know all of the proper techniques to develop a network. But remember that it is not a quick process and that you must be patient. It takes some work to discover common ground with someone and develop an ever-lasting relationship.