Does your company need to up its networking game? If professional networking has been pushed to the bottom of your business to do list, you’re missing out on valuable connections. To help you reprioritize, here are 5 effective strategies for effortless business networking, whether online or face to face.
1. Participate in LinkedIn Groups
Any savvy professional networker knows that leveraging LinkedIn is crucial. Go beyond the typical link up by joining groups, which provide ample opportunities to network with prospects and create warm introductions
Being actively engaged is key to networking in online groups, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Start with just two to three relevant groups, and include at least one outside of your industry. And remember, don’t sell! Focus on being helpful and sharing your knowledge. In discussions, share your recent blog post or services only when they bring value to the conversation.
2. Make Professional Introductions
Have a couple of contacts who you think should connect? Introduce them! Email introductions will position you as a resource to others in your network, and they’ll be more likely to remember you when they know someone who is looking to connect in the future.
All it takes is a couple of email addresses and a quick email. Write a simple introduction to both contacts and state why they’d be a great fit, such as a mutual interest, a great opportunity, or a novice-mentor relationship. Be sure to include both names of the people you’re introducing in the subject line.
3. Schedule Virtual Coffee Dates
If geography stands in your way of traditional coffee dates, meeting virtually with other business professionals is the next best thing. Virtual chats blur the lines between online interactions and face-to-face conversations. Free tools like Google Hangouts and Skype help you move your business relationships forward by making visual connections with your contacts.
4. Attend Conferences and Events
Handshakes go a long way when it comes to building a strong professional network. Going to conferences and events creates opportunities to meet new people as well as turn all those online connections you’ve made into offline contacts. And don’t forget your business cards! Swap your basic info with others and be sure to follow-up with them post-event.
No time to travel? Join your local Chamber of Commerce, professional association chapter, community service club, or business referral group. These organizations often host events in your area that can lead to plenty of word-of-mouth opportunities for your business.
5. Rent Some Coworking Space
Many companies are going virtual these days. If you’re a microbusiness or small business owner who operates in the cloud, then getting out of the house and into a coworking space can help grow your business. These shared spaces offer opportunities to connect with others outside your field, build strategic partnerships, and meet potential customers or clients. Plus, you’ll create more visibility for your business and find opportunities to collaborate on new and exciting projects.
What are your go-to B2B networking strategies? Share them in the comments below.