A one-man company can only last for so long. If you don’t have networking in your business plan, make sure to have it in there after reading this article. Imagine sharing your concerns, ideas, solutions, instead of doing things by just doing it by yourself. Sounds good, right?
When it’s done well, this will not just provide you growth in a much less bumpy way, but it too, will up your game in the competitive field of your career. If you’re in a plotter-producing outputs looking for clients, an influencer to boost your business, or an industry leader for mentorship, brace yourself for the top three steps you need to undertake, so let’s go:
Do some local groundwork in your area.
Identify people in your area who do the same thing as you. There’s always something to learn about them, and about you too, of course! Come from a place of goodness, treat them as important, and offer help. You’ll build real connections and eventually, these relationships will pay off. You can get bigger connections from another region or state, but local, down-the-street connections are good to keep.
Questions to ask yourself to get you started: “What are the businesses offering the same service/product as me?” Now you might tag them as your competitor, but don’t fret because you just have to bounce off from each other’s ideas.
Another specific thing you could do is join a group or organization. List down the local industry associations, rotary clubs, or chambers of commerce. These groups are most likely composed of business people who do the same kind of business as yours.
As much as connecting to your local crowd is important, it’s also vital to build your online presence! There’s one main platform that probably everybody knows: LinkedIn – People input their job titles, their industry, and their experience. The platform has become a center for individuals to exhibit exclusive industry-specific knowledge and spread out best practices. In a study of job seekers as respondents, 85% of them perceive LinkedIn as the most important social media channel. If you haven’t set up your LinkedIn profile yet, it’s time to do so.
Be that industry leader
There’s a quote of Keith Ferrazzi that goes “The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity,” and it’s true. We all know that the art of networking is about reaching out, but it is also important to keep yourself in check, especially in terms of value. Who would want to connect to someone who cannot offer tips or knowledge, or much less more connections?
In line with being an industry leader is continually learning. There are books, videos, and endless material to digest. Do you have them? Do they keep you up-to-date with the latest knowledge? Do you have the skill to innovate from such?
If you keep your well full, you’ll make networking a little less exhausting, and you’ll attract more people to connect with you. You might have to dig deep — like reconnecting with former schoolmates to check in where they’re at, or 2nd-degree connections who are friends of previous office mates. That all sounds intimidating, but you just need to speak with them and offer help.
Once you have these steps done, remember that communication is key. You need to follow through, as this is not a set-and-forget process. For the growth of your business, everybody knows that you need to be hands-on. When you feel the ground moving, you should know if it’s going the right way or the wrong one. You’ll feel it in your gut, and your network will grow.