As an entrepreneur, sometimes the people you know can open doors for you, leading to career advancements and great opportunities. Networking can be intimidating, but with the right skills and knowledge, you can grow your network in a rewarding way to supplement your business ventures.
- Network Actively
It’s easy to forget about networking when you’re caught up in your own daily responsibilities. Networking doesn’t have to require going to a conference and dedicating an entire weekend to meeting new connections (although that is one good option).
You should be strategic in your outreach, but that doesn’t mean you should passively wait for others to approach you. Your network won’t grow exponentially overnight. You need to dedicate time to networking on a weekly basis.
- Give, Don’t Take
Sometimes you’ll find a connection who can help you, but you should also be looking for opportunities to help others. Provide value for your connections without expecting anything in return. But remember, there is a fine line between offering unsolicited advice and providing useful business insight that will be of genuine use to your connections.
- Maintain Relationships
Making new connections is always exciting, but it’s important to maintain those connections over the years. This can be as simple as congratulating a LinkedIn connection on a work anniversary, or taking two minutes to catch up with a business connection you see at the grocery store.
- Be Your Best Self
You tend to attract people who are similar to you in philosophy and values, so work on becoming someone who you would want to connect with. As you improve yourself, you might find that you draw more connections with less effort.
- Create a Plan and Stick to It
Any business strategy needs a solid plan, and networking is no exception. Identify goals for networking, and try to exceed those goals. They can be goals for meeting new connections or maintaining relationships with your existing network. As with any plan, see it through to the end and expand upon it for the best chance of success.
Above all, be sure that you’re having fun while still networking in the most effective ways. Participate in groups that interest you and be active in your local business community. You never know when one of your connections could introduce you to an even more influential person, or present you with a fruitful business opportunity.