Maintaining a network for Pros: Top 5 business networking tips to get the most out of your contacts
It’s no secret that a good business network helps you achieve your growth targets faster. Entrepreneurs right through to corporation managers, the right contacts can provide you with innovation, orders, rare skills, background knowledge and much more.
Hence, rule number one: Invest time to build your network carefully. However, just as important is rule number two: Maintain and cultivate your network. Once you’ve invested time and money in building your network, you want to optimize it to your advantage. But how do you master the art of networking? We have five networking tips for you to build and maintain the perfect business network.
Whilst we may all have good intentions about wanting to stay in touch with many of our contacts, the truth is that we simply don’t have the time to do so. Consider for a moment that the average number of connections we each have on LinkedIn is 930. It’s simply impossible to maintain ongoing, purposeful relations with so many people.
So, what we need to do is prioritize. Our recommendation is to start by grouping contacts into buckets – find your top 50-100 contacts and differentiate between professions, knowledge, their commercial use to you, and closeness of relationship, whatever is important to you. It can be a tiresome process, but after reviewing hundreds, if not thousands of contacts, you’ll be astonished by the opportunities that present themselves at the end of it.
#2: Truly help each other
There’s a huge difference between banging your own drum and providing your network with valuable information or skills they may be looking for at the time they desperately need it. Don’t be afraid to ask your network what their pain points are right now and try and help them. Also, don’t be afraid to share your pain points and ask for help back – it’s all about give and take after all. This inspires trust and forges true business relationships based on trust and a mutual desire to succeed.
From your years of experience, what valuable advice can you provide to your network? Share your story in the comment section!
#3: Use social media strategically
Social media can be a huge timewaster if non-strategic. Understand what you want from your business social networks and be picky about who you connect to – in fact, target individuals with pin point accuracy as to what you need and what you can offer. Investing a few hours in creating your own personal social media strategy will pay dividends and save you hours!
But in order to maintain our ability to communicate face to face, it is also recommendable to think outside the “social media box” once in a while.
Joining local clubs is a great way to 1) meet new people, 2) learn about things that genuinely interest you, 3) have fun outside of a work environment AND 4) forge truly valuable friendships!
#4: Never force friendships
Speaking about friendships, one thing needs to be said: You can’t force them. Actually, it’s not necessarily about the size of your network, it’s more about what you do with it. Similar to our private lives, most relationships are not meant to last forever. This is especially true of the professional world, where most relationships are superficial and merely a means of helping individuals climb their own ladders. Identify shallow connections and appreciate that they are simply not worth the time – these individuals are almost always the ones asking for something and never giving back.
#5: Be the person other people want to meet
It is easier said than done, but this strategy might be particularly appealing to introverts, who often feel the need to be outgoing when taking other networking strategies into consideration. But having the same people you want to meet come up to you seems quite beneficial, right? Of course, being an expert in your field will most likely motivate them to contact you. Nevertheless, even a nice e-mail or offering help can make them come up to you without having to put too much of an effort into it.
Does the thought of networking have you running for the hills? Check out our article on how to prepare right for a networking event.