As a startup founder or executive, networking is one of the most important things you can do to grow your business. Whether it’s attending industry events, connecting with people on LinkedIn, or volunteering in your community, networking is a great way to meet new people, exchange ideas, and build relationships that can lead to new opportunities.
In this article, we’ll share some top strategies for networking that will help you build your network and take your business to the next level.
How to Build Networking Skills
Networking is a skill that anyone can learn, but it takes practice to get good at it.
One of the best ways to build your networking skills is to start small. For example, you can start by attending local networking events, such as those organized by your local chamber of commerce or industry associations. These events provide a low-pressure environment for you to meet new people and practice your networking techniques.
Importance of Networking
Networking is important for several reasons.
First, it can help you find new customers or clients. By meeting new people and building relationships with them, you’ll be able to expand your business network and increase your opportunities for growth.
Second, networking can help you stay up-to-date with industry trends and best practices. By talking to other professionals in your field, you’ll learn about new ideas, products, and services that could benefit your business.
Finally, networking can help you build your personal brand and establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
6 Networking Tips for Executives
Now that we’ve discussed why networking is important and how to build your networking skills, let’s dive into some networking tips that can help you take your networking to the next level.
1. Set Networking Goals
Before you start networking, it’s important to set clear goals for what you want to achieve. For example, you might set a goal to meet five new people at an industry event or to schedule one meeting each week. By setting specific goals, you’ll be more focused and motivated to achieve them.
“I love meeting up with HR leaders and sharing ideas and talking through problems – but sometimes it’s difficult to maintain consistency. At the beginning of each month I ensure I contact at least 2-3 individuals (whether it’s a first meeting or a reconnect) to meet up. This helps keep me accountable, and asking those you meet with, “Who would you recommend I connect with?” is a great strategy to expand your network!”
Gabby Popowitz, Sr. Director, Talent & Culture at Boardable
2. Offer to Make Introductions for Your Connections
One of the best ways to add value to your network is to offer to make introductions for your connections. For example, if you know two people who could benefit from meeting each other, offer to introduce them. By doing so, you’ll not only help your connections but also strengthen your relationships with them.
“I think of networking like a piggy bank – you can’t take from a piggy bank unless you make deposits. I make the networking ask by saying “Hey [name], I have a few colleagues you might find interesting that I would like to introduce you to.” Pro tip – In case they ask to return the favor, dig through their LinkedIn to build a short list of who you’d like to meet.”
Kevin Long, Director of Sales at Groundwork
3. Meet New Connections at Industry Events
Attending industry events is a great way to meet new people and build your network. When you attend an event, make sure to introduce yourself to others and ask them questions about their business or career. Some good questions to ask at a networking event include “What do you do?” “What brought you to this event?” and “What are you working on right now?”
“Attending industry meetups can be a good strategy to build relationships. I’m an introvert and events help me to get outside my comfort zone and meet people. Before going to a networking event, I like to set an easy-to-remember goal like “talk to 5 people I don’t know,” or “introduce myself to one of the speakers,” or “make a note of who I talk to and connect with them on LinkedIn afterwards.” That way I have a plan to continue building the relationship.”
Meg Yothment, Head of Community Operations at Powderkeg
4. Volunteer in Your Community
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and build relationships with them. By volunteering, you’ll also have the opportunity to develop valuable skills that can benefit your business. Some good volunteer opportunities for networking include organizing a fundraising event, serving on a community board, or mentoring young professionals.
“It’s so crucial to be a well-rounded individual, and when that happens doors often open when we don’t expect it. For example, I give back to my local Zionsville community by volunteering most weekends to the Special Olympics, Lions Club, and several autism / down syndrome charities, and by guest speaking at local high schools and universities on science and entrepreneurialism. It’s through affiliations such as this that I’ve been able to grow my network in a genuine way with kind-hearted people.”
Paul C. Dreier, BSc., MBA, CEO at Novilytic
5. Host a Podcast
Hosting a podcast is a great way to build your personal brand and establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. By interviewing other professionals in your field, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from them and build relationships with them. You can also use your podcast as a platform to share your own insights and ideas, which can help you stand out in your industry.
“I’m biased, yes, but podcasting is a really great way to network. We all know that conversations build relationships and trust. By hosting a show and bringing guests in for authentic conversations, you establish and deepen relationships by default. And then, when the show is published, you have the added opportunity to get to know people in your guests’ networks, too.”
Lindsay Tjepkema, CEO & Co-Founder at Casted
6. Keep In Touch With Your Network
Once you’ve built a strong network, it’s important to stay in touch with your connections. This can include sending follow-up emails after meeting someone new, sharing relevant articles or resources with your network, or even just checking in with your connections from time to time to see how they’re doing. By staying in touch, you’ll strengthen your relationships and increase the likelihood of future opportunities.
“There’s no shortcut to building authentic relationships. You have to stay dedicated to people and continue to support and reach out to them ongoing. When you’re trying to build your network, ask everyone you meet who else they can introduce you to. Let one meeting help you schedule your next five.”
Chelsea Linder, Partner at Gener8tor
Networking Tips for Professionals, Beginners, and Introverts
Networking can be challenging for professionals of all levels, but there are some tips that can help make it easier. For beginners, it’s important to start small and focus on building relationships with people in your local community. For introverts, it’s important to find networking events that are less intimidating, such as small meetups or online networking events. For professionals, it’s important to stay up-to-date with industry trends and best practices and to make an effort to attend industry events and conferences.
Effective Business Networking
Effective business networking requires a combination of strategy, skill, and persistence. By setting clear goals, building your networking skills, and staying in touch with your connections, you’ll be well on your way to building a strong network that can help you achieve your business goals.
In conclusion, networking is an essential part of business development and growth. By following these top strategies for networking, you’ll be able to build your network, expand your opportunities, and take your business to the next level. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned professional, there are always ways to improve your networking skills and make valuable connections that can help you succeed.
We hope these networking tips from the community will help you build more authentic relationships in your industry!
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