How to build a professional network
What are the fundamentals of business development? Many of us would think of investments, time, strategy, analytics, etc. However, we often overlook one of the game-changers – people. Despite all the digitalization and AI development, human-human contact will still run the world. A successful business is about diligence, dedication, and meaningful connections. Meeting the right people, in the right place and time can be a breaking point for your growth.
Some people may find it difficult to build a professional network offline, as the Internet experience is much easier – you just add connections in LinkedIn or other relevant platforms and that’s it. However, a virtual network will not provide you with any benefits, if it is not sealed by face-to-face communication.
The basics of creating a professional network:
1. Be prepared
The first impression is a win-it-or-lose-it chance. Handshake, eye contact, meaningful small talk, an exquisite business card – everything requires preparation:
- Prior to ‘going public’ learn the basic of body language, as it sends messages while you are doing all the talking. Most seasoned business owners will always watch you, apart from listening, they are great observers.
- Small talk helps to break the ice and understand if there are any chances for further communication and cooperation.
- Business card – a noteworthy collectible and direct exposure to your brand. A business card is a powerful marketing tool that represents you after the meeting and helps to contact you in the future. Given the wide spread of online contact, a tangible card will help you stand out from the crowd. Check for business cards templates, choose the contacts to represent, customize the colors and layout, print, and be ready to share it with people.
2. Choose right people
The main idea isn’t in talking to as many people as possible, but in contacting the right ones. Spreading your business card among everyone at the event will result in seeing them thrown everywhere. Check the names of people who are going to be present at the meeting, and concentrate on those who are related to your sphere of influence. Start up the conversation and see if you can find common ground and raise interest in your company.
3. Co-beneficial relationship
The result of the communication must influence positively both sides. Your partners should see the benefits of anticipated cooperation as well, otherwise, they will not be interested in a long-lasting relationship.
4. Networking events
Networking events are a treasure trove of valuable professional contacts. It is an opportunity to meet like-minded people, obtain new knowledge, and grow your network. However, be consistent in the number of contacts you want to make. If you manage to set proper contact with one person during the event, it’s a success. The network is about the quality of service and help you can exchange, not the number of people.
5. Online presence
Online presence is a ‘must’ nowadays, even supporters of old-school style acknowledge its necessity. Keep your profiles/website/blog up to date, and refresh the achievements and the performance of the company. If anyone checks the old-looking website, with the last news for 2020-2021, or even earlier, they will doubt the idea of contacting you.
Besides? Online presence helps to make the first impression last longer. Become a follower of your potential partners, show a reaction to their news, comment on some issues expressing your point of you, and thus, expose your high level of expertise.
6. Socially beneficial event
Socially beneficial and charity events stand aside from regular networking events, as their primary function is related to helping those who need it. Yet, despite the philanthropic nature, such events may also bring together necessary people.
7. Maintain the contact
Creating contacts is just a part of the deal. Your business card will not work if you never get in touch with the person and then come out of nowhere because you need help (probably financial) or some kind of protection.
Occasional contact on professional holidays, or just an offer for help may do the trick.
8. Connect people
You can’t possibly cooperate with all the people you get in touch with. However, you can be a mediator, bringing together people who you think will complement each other’s performance. It will strengthen your position in your business circle and create strong-bonded connections.
Building up a professional network is an essential factor in business or career growth and development. The network of acquaintances isn’t measured by the number of impactful people you reach, but by having the ones you can rely on in the moment of need. Networking can open the door to new opportunities, which seem quite unattainable when you perform alone. It is also important to remember that the strength of your network depends on your personal input as well. Learn to give rather than just take. The balance of giving and taking will create long-lasting and beneficial business friendships.