Growing your business network requires you to seek out and build mutually beneficial connections. But if your business network is scarce or even non-existent, how do you expand it?
Here are nine techniques you can use to start growing your business network today.
1. Raise your visibility and professional profile
The more people see you around and realise you’re an expert at what you do, the more they’ll want to work with you. And the more they’ll tell people about you.
Business networking gives you the profile and visibility you need to be known as the go-to person in your field—especially if you’re seizing opportunities to speak to groups at the right business networking events in your area.
2. Identify regular networking events
Networking events with the highest potential for success will depend on your industry. Find out where industry influencers engage with the business community.
The chances are high that a networking event, trade show, workshop or business masterclass is taking place at a location near you. Identify a venue that aligns with your goals for the event. Then, plan to attend on a date when the individuals you want to meet will also be in attendance.
Attending a regular networking event will allow you to develop longer-term business relationships. Depending on the structure of that group, and how often the members interact, a steady stream of referrals and business support could also flow.
3. Seek out new faces
Even confident business leaders can tend to flock toward individuals they already know at a networking event. But it’s difficult to expand your business network if you cling to the contacts you already have.
Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to new faces. The advantage of being at a networking event is that everyone is in the same boat. The majority of the people you meet will be eager to hear your story if you are only willing to lend an ear and listen to theirs.
4. Get rejected!
“If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough” – Chris Dixon
When growing your network, you will face a lot of rejection. People will ignore your calls, decline meeting invites, and requests for introductions. Trying and failing is much better then not trying at all. At least when you try, you have a chance to succeed. Learn from your rejections and grow tougher for when it happens again.
5. Think long-term
Connections may open doors, but relationships close deals.
Growing your network is not just about collecting and exchanging business cards. Its most effective when long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships form. Relationships take time to build. Be patient. Stay in touch with people you like.
6. Take your existing network to the next level
Leveraging existing connections to build new ones makes growing your network more natural and less forced. Hence why one of the easiest ways to expand your business network is to look at your existing one.
Seek out second or third-degree connections within your current network. You are already a trusted member of your customers’ network which means that they can recommend or even introduce you to their connections without hesitation.
7. Host events
Hosting an event can be a great way to get to know your customers and build relationships. Invite some of your best existing customers and encourage them to bring their friends.
8. Give back to your community
Building brand awareness in your local community is a great way to attract new business. Consider a sponsorship or participating in a community event to raise your business profile.
9. Use social media
Social media is a powerful tool to promote your business to potential customers and gain valuable insight through ‘social listening’. Through social listening, you can find out what customers are saying about you, gain insight into their behaviour, identify keywords and trends that appeal to your target market and so improve your customer service. Social media can help you to build your business profile and attract new customers.
People do business with people they know, like and trust. Companies don’t make decisions; people do. Your professional network can open doors for you that otherwise could not be opened. For better or for worse, it’s not just what you know or can do; it’s who you know and what their experience has been when connecting with you.