Building a strong network is key to entrepreneurial success but can be daunting for new business owners. Successful networking involves having the right conversations with the right people. Networking can help gain clients, improve your reputation and open doors to new opportunities for business and career advancement.
Attend industry-specific events:
Industry events, such as trade shows and conferences, are a great way to meet key people in the industry and join communities where the right audience exists. Networking through industry events allows you to position yourself as an expert in a particular area, get your brand out there and, most importantly, form new connections. Don’t make the mistake of thinking handing out as many business cards as you can at an event is successful networking. Rather than sharing cards, focus on starting new conversations with other people. Treat each and every person at a networking event like a potential connection; you never know who someone is or who they will become in the future. Try not to focus on finding customers at networking events as you risk missing out on making strong connections. Instead, focus on getting to know new people or spending time with people you want to get to know better.
Set networking goals:
Setting networking goals helps to track progress and clearly identify what you are trying to achieve from networking. Focus on creating mutually beneficial relationships by sharing knowledge, information and contacts rather than exploiting your personal agenda. Some examples of networking goals include finding out who to send your resume to in a particular company, introducing yourself to someone, attending a certain amount of networking functions each month, or even increasing referrals by 10 per cent each month.
Utilise social media:
Social media is a powerful tool in actively participating in, and, potentially forming online communities. Online platforms, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, are ideal for sharing high-quality content and gaining a loyal following. Consider writing or contributing to a blog to interact with your target market on a regular basis and strengthen your relationships.