How Can You Make Your Network Work For You
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Business networking can greatly increase the visibility and productivity of your business. Proper network management requires time and a few simple steps to make it happen.
The key to making your network work for you is developing a relationship strategy that fosters constructive relationship building. These relationships can lead to many wonderful business collaboration opportunities.
Attend Networking Events
Attend all the industry networking events that you can. Any business can benefit from these events, but is it especially important for small business owners and business professionals to attend local business functions. Contact your local chamber of commerce to see if it has a schedule of local networking events. For regional and national networking events, you can find many through LinkedIn. If you join industry-specific LinkedIn groups, you will be in the loop for newsletters and invitations to networking events.
Pick a Goal for the Networking Event
It does not matter what networking endeavor in which you choose to participate. Set an agenda before attending the event. Ask yourself what exactly you would like to accomplish during this time. For instance, are you there to make new connections, learn more about your industry, or participate in a community charity event?
Always Be Socially Active
As far as networking is concerned, it does not only happen at business events. Be socially active with people you interact with in your leisure time, as well. This is as easy as casually chatting it up with people at the gym, local sporting events, or your children’s school activities. You never know if that casual acquaintance could become a new network connection.
Know the Worth of Your Business and Promote It
Take the time to create a pitch about your business to generate referrals and connections. Make sure that the pitch you create is clear about what you do, who your customers are, and what makes you stand out over the competition. People are very impressed when a colleague can clearly articulate their business and its objectives. Doing this can pique the interest of this new connection to your company and hopefully begin a new business relationship.
Find an Icebreaker
If beginning conversations with strangers is awkward for you, try to find an icebreaker to get the dialog flowing. You can do this as easily as a compliment on someone’s tie or dress. This gives the other person the chance to talk about themselves. You can also base it on some common ground like owning the same cell phone or other product and comparing notes.
Be An Extrovert
Once you get to a networking event, make the most of your time. Don’t sit alone at a table or bar quietly, actively work the room. Smile, make eye contact, and say hello to everyone. Walk around and introduce yourself to people and tell them about your business. Take this time to get to know others, as well. Actively listen to what they have to say, and parlay that into a dialogue about your industry and your respective businesses.
While at networking events, collect business cards and contact information for everyone you meet. Connect with these people on Linkedin and other social media channels. Try to find some reason to follow up with the new connection. Send them an email that says it was nice to meet them at the event and you look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship. You can keep yourself in their orbit by occasionally sending them an article online, inviting them to another event, and even wishing them happy holidays.
Give and Take
Networking cannot be a one-sided relationship. Successful networking involves quite a bit of reciprocity for both parties to benefit from the relationship. A business network relationship can fade fairly quickly if one person is always asking for some kind of favor but is unwilling to do the same for others.
Ask for What You Want
One sure way to not get what you want is neglecting to ask for it. For your networking efforts to be a success, you will need to ask for assistance. Make sure that you have a clear understanding of what you need and be able to articulate that. When the other person asks how they can help you, you can tell them exactly what is needed.
Not sure how to make the most of your network? PS Inc can help you. Contact us today to get started on growing your network and utilizing the connections you already have.