Do you avoid networking because it seems like one more thing to add to your never-ending to-do list? If so, consider that maybe you’re trying too hard. Networking can and should be a natural, authentic process that you enjoy and not something that you force yourself to do. When someone comes to mind, check-in with them at that moment if you have the time. If not, choose a time when you’re not distracted and reach out with an email or phone call.
When you take a genuine interest in another person’s life and career, most will want to reciprocate. The next time you need a resource or favor, it won’t seem like you’re only contacting that person because of what he or she can do for you. No one likes to feel like they’re being used, so investing in genuine relationships is one way to avoid that altogether.
Let Your Network Know About New Opportunities
Along the same lines, people are more willing to do favors for others when they do the same for them without expecting anything in return. When an opportunity comes up that you feel would benefit someone in your network, let him or her know about it. Passing along your contact’s name and putting in a good word based on your experience with this person is a nice thing to do. Don’t be surprised if your contact does the same for you some day when you least expect it.
Meet Up with Network Connections When You Travel
Chances are, you know people all over the country who you have worked with or that share the same business interests that you do. When you travel for business or just for recreation, try to take some time out of your schedule to meet a contact in his or her own city. People appreciate feeling that someone remembered and took time for them. This good feeling can translate into an extra willingness to respond to your requests for help in the future or to surprise you with a new opportunity.
Let Your Network Know You’re Thinking About Them at the Holidays
Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other big holidays are the ideal time to check in with people in your network to let them know what’s new with you and find out what they’re up to as well. It sends the message that you care about them and want to remain connected. This is also a good time to include an updated business card if any of your contact or employment information has changed.
Turn to Your Network for Advice
Most people have one area where they’re truly subject matter experts. If you’re fortunate to have many of these people in your network already, don’t hesitate to ask for their input when you need it. People usually feel honored to receive such a request because it says that you view them as an expert. Be sure to let your network know that you’re happy to answer their questions about your specialty area as well.
We would love to hear your story and help you find the best strategy as you open or grow a business in an established community. At Business Partner Alliance, we provide targeted coaching, consulting and business advisory services to help small and medium sized business owners achieve new heights. We put our passion and experience to work to help business people achieve their goals. Let’s meet for coffee to see how we can network together.