networking techniques

In order to run a successful business, you need to build and maintain a strong network. One of the biggest challenges for today’s business owner is finding the time to network with other business leaders. Being able to find time during the day can seem like a monumental task. Organizing your day to include networking keeps you engaged with the community that helps grow our business.

When we network with other businesses, we market our expertise and products while exchanging ideas and best practices. Time and energy spent on networking with other business owners and executives has tangible rewards.

The key to networking is to think of it as part of your routine. Here are 5 networking techniques to target your efforts and make them more productive:

1. Social Media

You can increase your reach and amount of interactions through social networking sites. Networking sites offer the convenience of visibility and the possibility of interacting with peers and potential customers while sitting in your office or at home. You can follow trends in your industry, offer advice on familiar problems, and write about what you’ve learned. Becoming a thought leader increases your potential for more interactions.

2. Follow Up with New Connections

Connecting with someone at a networking event is like a first date—your professional relationship has just begun. Make sure you follow up with your new connection on social media, through a personalized email, a phone call, or a handwritten letter. Give yourself a 48-hour deadline to reconnect to show your interest and offer some new ideas you may have wanted to talk about but didn’t get the chance.

3. Make Them Feel Comfortable around You

A sure-fire way to turn people off is to talk only about yourself and your business (unless of course you’re Bill Gates or Richard Branson). People get bored quickly when they are unable to contribute to a conversation. This can also translate into a negative interaction that has the opposite effect of your networking efforts. Actively listening to others makes them feel special, like they have something important to say, and has a positive effect. If your new connection feels comfortable with you, then they will look forward to future interactions.

4. Expertise + Offer to Help

After introducing yourself and settling into a conversation, ask questions about their business and any recent success and challenges they may have. This is a great way to actively listen and make them feel more comfortable around you. If you can, offer your resources, such as contacts, partnerships, or knowledge, in order to help with their challenges. This increases your value to them and their connections.

5. Frequency

Maximize your networking techniques through frequent and quality interactions. This can be as simple as posting an interesting article on a social media site, or committing to attend a mixer once a month. Much like advertising, front-of-mind awareness increases the likelihood that someone will pass your name to another person as a trusted source or expert in your industry.

Networking Is a Best Practice

Remember to nurture the strategic relationships that you’ve built. This select group of professionals become your mentors and sounding boards for your ideas. These relationships require frequent interaction on a more personal level. Business networking is not something you should only do after work—it should be one of your best practices.

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