Networking is one of the most valuable things you can do as a business owner. You need to engage in it if you want to grow your business. Studies show a company can get up to 20% of its new customers through networking, but also that a strong networking strategy is key to finding partners to help the business grow.
It isn’t always easy to network successfully though.
When you try and make connections with others, the initial introduction phase is awkward and time-consuming, and you need to be concerned about time constraints as well.
Building a network of connections takes time, and time is money. To streamline your networking strategy when you’re strapped for time, implement these five tips from the experts.
Make It a Habit
Practicing daily networking will become a natural part of your day.
Rather than investing all your time once a week, you can use your five minutes each day to reach out and network online. Start your morning by interacting with others via emails and social media.
Make a schedule for your phone-calls and plan to take them on your commute. “Windshield time” is a great way to keep touch with potential partners and investors.
If you make networking a habit, both for personal and business needs, then it will start to feel just as natural as brushing your teeth or styling your hair.
By implementing networking as a habit, it becomes easier for you to make time for it. You’re less likely to find reasons not to spend time networking when it becomes ingrained in your day-to-day life.
This process isn’t just about building new relationships.
You should be networking with the people in your existing network because they’ll help you to make connections and find people in your industry. A great way to start is by networking at work.
Make it a point to learn about your team’s background, and try to get to know them in person. Actually, sitting down for lunch with them or making time to chat will build professional relationships that you wouldn’t have been able to create just through emails.
Discover how your internal company network has value to offer. You may be surprised!
There are many talents staff members could have that you may not even be aware of. Getting to know your team and asking questions individually could help maximize those skills and find ways to utilize them in the business.
What About Your Existing Activities
If you already participate in social activities, you can use those to start conversations. For example, if you volunteer at a non-profit organization, then you can start conversations with others who also volunteer there.
You may not gain any new valuable connections but connecting with others and practicing your networking skills will benefit you in the long term. Remember, you can chat everywhere — from your gym or waiting in line at the post office.
Practice your ability to build emotional links with people, even in your day-to-day activities. This practice may be more valuable than you think!
Place Important Events on Your Calendar in Advance
It is important to prepare for meaningful in-person networking events well in advance by staying organized. Chances are that you won’t be able to attend most events at the last minute, but if you work ahead of time, it may be possible to go to the important ones.
You can increase your networking opportunities by trying to attend an event at a minimum of once a month. You should make a list of events that you are interested in and add the events to your calendar so you have plenty of time to prepare for the event and keep something else from taking that time.
Select events according to the prospects they have to offer. Aim for large, popular events with a good chance of leading you to potential customers and clients. Your local Chamber of Commerce is an excellent way to network.
The Social Media Monster
People use social media to communicate and reconnect with people they know, and in turn learn about new products and ideas.
Take a few minutes a day to go through your LinkedIn connections and reach out to those who might be valuable to your social circle. The key to success with social media networking is finding balance and preventing it from eating up too much of your day. Guard against going “down the rabbit hole.”
Set aside a certain amount of time, so you can avoid getting distracted. It may be helpful to consolidate multiple social media accounts if you have more than one in order to market your content and connections. There are many great apps to help you do that.
Networking is of vital importance for your success and that of your business. Keep these tips in mind as you perform critical networking activities without it taking time away from the rest of your business and personal life.