For many, the term networking comes across as a generic and ingenious way of advancing one’s career. That is because too many professionals approach it in the wrong way! Growing your network is not about having the most connections on LinkedIn as much as it is about developing strong relationships with people who share the same interests and goals as you. The ultimate goal is to create meaningful connections with people who won’t hesitate to say your name in a room full of opportunities.
But how do you find those people? And how do you approach them in a meaningful way? We’re glad you asked! In fact, we asked the same question to nine extremely well-connected business leaders. To learn the tips to their effortless approach, read on!
“I’ve Never Met a Stranger”
The best way to grow your network is to be approachable and easy to reach. Take the time to respond to messages, and when possible schedule quick 15-minute virtual coffee meetings. I always remember one of my Dad’s favorite sayings, “I’ve never met a stranger.”
Nicole Spracale, Coaching and Consulting
Attend Online Events
The best way to build connections and grow your network during these changing times is to attend online events. This is a great time to attend virtual events that take place anywhere across the globe and explore new industries that you otherwise may not have invested time in being plugged into. Initiate 1:1 meetings from these larger events and go deeper with a small number of people for mutually beneficial connections.
Stephanie Thoma, Networking Career Coach
Connect Based on Common Interests
Approach networking as you would making new friends. Don’t try to ask for favors or grand gestures the first time you reach out. Connect with them based on common interests or industries and get to know the person before you begin making professional inquiries or requests.
Vanessa Molica, The Lash Professional
The Network Effect
The best way to build connections and grow my network is to ask people in my existing network. The term, “the network effect,” exists for a reason. I’ve found that if I can get a few introductions from friends and colleagues, those introductions lead to more introductions, and so on. Plus, these relationships hit the ground running because they’re from warm referrals instead of cold outreach.
James Pollard, The Advisor Coach LLC
Lake Rabun offers company retreats that are an excellent way to build and maintain relationships with people in your same industry. While the pandemic is in full swing, virtual company retreats have become the new normal, but once things subside, retreats are always an easy way to make new connections and see new faces in the industry.
Gwen North, Lake Rabun Hotel
A Friend of a Friend
A friend of a friend is a powerful tool. Become acquainted with your friends’ coworkers and other friends to build a series of connections that you can reach out to if you ever need it. These connections become second degree, which means you don’t know them through your own experience but you have a common friend and get to know each other through them. These connections can be just as influential.
Ryan Nouis, TruPath
Don’t Be Afraid to Shoot Your Shot
Social networking sites are a fantastic way to meet new people! The key to finding success on them is to never be afraid to shoot your shot. If you come across someone interesting that you would like to connect with, send them a message. The worst-case scenario is that they don’t reply, but the best case is that you hit it off and develop a great connection that can open doors for you down the road.
Nikitha Lokareddy, Markitors
Offer a Consultation to Introduce Yourself
I have seen people offer a service for free such as a 15-minute consultation to introduce themselves. I think this way of connection is helpful for building trust. Others have asked who our clientele is, so they can refer them to us. I think that offering something without expecting anything in return is the key to good networking.
Sara Yusupov, iHeartRadio
Integrate Networking Into Your Business Plan
Make networking a regular part of your business plan, and spend time on this every week. Seek out colleagues in similar businesses, professional associations, community associations, and other networks for new connections, and ask your connections for suggestions. LinkedIn and other networks are great for this!
Colleen McManus, Senior Consultant