No good business person can survive for long without building up his/her network. It is a process one must continuously do, because like it or not, some of your connections don’t stick around for long. So how do you ensure you have a steady stream of people in your network who actually produce results?
Have a networking strategy
Networking is vital to your career, but you must have a strategy for doing it right. Sure, it’s good to pursue leads with determination, but other times, it’s a waste of your time and your connection’s time. Instead, always network with a plan and purpose.
Attend local meetups, startup competitions, hackathons, and meetings to widen your network organically. Sign up for alerts for this type of events in your area.
Then, consider with whom you should connect and why. Will this connection create introductions for you or your co-workers? Does he or she know about your industry? Does his or her expertise mesh well with yours? Creating the right strategic relationship is crucial.
Focus on making a few high-quality connections
People who network merely to collect business cards have completely missed the mark. You can’t meet 50 people at a three-day conference and expect to instantly have a network. If you’re good at networking, you may come out of an event with 10 to 15 potential contacts with follow-up actions or appointments (and a purpose for each connection) already established. Some of the best-connected entrepreneurs don’t have the biggest networks or the highest number of connections. Instead, they might work with smaller, tightly knit groups of connections.
Everyone wants to partner with someone who helps out others – especially when there is no clear benefit for the person doing it. Be that person, and people will take notice. Volunteering is a great way to build professional relationships while giving back to the community. Take a volunteer position that allows you to use your skills and express your passion. Your network will grow along with your sense of accomplishment.
Don’t hog attention – you will turn off potential contacts
The next time you find yourself face-to-face with a peer, a seasoned entrepreneur or, better yet, a super connector, cherish that person’s time, knowledge and connections. Think about not only about what he or she can do for you, but also what you can do for him or her. Making a plan for each connection forces you to clarify what your needs are and decide who can help you the most.
Help others build their connections, too
And after you have built your desired network, pay it forward by helping others build theirs too. After all, it is lonely on top when there are no other people beside you. Amp you karma points by helping your colleagues who need help. Remember that at one point, you were in their position too.