Pretty much everyone can benefit from being a bit more social – even creative types like comedians. For example, Jimmy Fallon is said to be successful not only for his comedy chops but his ability to network with the right people. If your business isn’t growing to the degree that you’d like, it might be helpful to take a good look at your networking practices. Networking via social media and in-person is one of the most powerful ways you can build, maintain, and grow your business. Here are four ways you can use networking to your advantage.
1. Attend On- and Offline Events
In the social media age, it’s important to remember that events can be on- and offline. Social media expert Jeff Bullas tells business owners to utilize both types of events if they want to boost their business’s bottom line.
Online networking events can include attending webinars, doing Twitter chats, or participating in LinkedIn forums. Industry mixers, trade shows, and lectures count as just some of the ways professionals network in person.
Additionally, if you tend to avoid in-person meet-ups due to scheduling conflicts or even social anxiety, you may want to rethink that. Eighty-five percent of eCommerce development company said that they felt they built better, more solid business relationships when they met in person.
2. Hang Out Where Your Customers Hang Out
Although attending industry events are important, it’s also important to connect with potential customers where they hang out, according to the Huffington Post. This may mean that you get coffee where your customers pick up their coffee. Maybe you attend an art gallery opening. Or perhaps you join a runners’ club. Joining in these activities gives you the opportunity to get to know people better. It also sets your apart from other business professionals who sell the same types of goods and services that you do.
3. Be in it for the Long-Haul
It’s not the meeting part of networking that seals the deal: It’s the relationships that you build over time that make the difference. LifeHack has some suggestions for building relationships. Keep in touch with people, either via email, social networks, or in person. Send interesting news stories to clients about trends in their industry. Offer them complimentary game tickets to their favorite basketball team. Sponsor a charity event with them. The most important thing to remember is that most of your interactions should be about connecting and not about selling. The 80/20 rule works well in this case.
4. It’s a Numbers Game
The more people you network with, the more opportunities you have to connect with people who would be helpful to your business. One way to ensure that you network often enough is to set goals. For example, plan on attending a networking event twice a month. Or make a point to exchange business cards with at least three people every day. Whatever it is, make your goals tangible and measurable.
It also helps to work backwards. What this means is that if you know from experience that you’ll get 15 to 20 business cards from each social event you attend, figure out how many you need to attend before you have 500 names in your Rolodex. Then decide what you’ll do with these names. Will you build a mailing list? Invite them to a networking event? It’s up to you to keep your list fresh.
Last Thoughts on Networking
Everyone from famous comedians to the local plumber can get significant benefits from networking. The people who get the best results often hang out where their customers hang out. They also make a point of attending on- and offline networking events. Additionally, successful net-workers set concrete goals. They know how many people they need to talk to and how often to build a sizable business network. Finally, if you’re just now starting to network, make a point of doing it consistently. It’s the relationships you build over time that will get you the most results.