Most every business professional is keenly aware of the importance of growing and maintaining their professional network. Your network is the critical cadre of people who can attest to your integrity, and to the quality of your work. Without them, others have little reason to pay attention to you. But with them, you have a bullhorn to spread the word about you and your service.
Yet we're all crazy busy keeping up with our day-to-day business operations as it is. Who has the time to build, nurture, and maintain their business network with everything else on their plate?
Think of it like this: you have a full plate...but without active participation in business network building, you are leaving money on the table every single day.
Because your network is responsible for referrals that give you the new revenue you need to stay in business.
Below, you'll find several techniques to enhance the efficiency of your networking activities so that you can do more with less.
How to Build Your Business Relationships and Grow Your Professional Network: These 5 Simple Practices Will Get You There
1. Ask for Advice
Are you wondering what tool to use for video conferencing or instant messaging between team members and/or clients? Ask someone in your network! This can take the form of a phone call, email, tweet, or guest post. People love being asked to post their info on your blog. All you need to do is ask. This is a simple, effective touchpoint that is both helpful to you and flattering to the advice-giver. You may learn something. More importantly, the person you ask for advice will remember you in a favorable light.
2. Book Recommendation
Read any good books lately? Ask yourself who in your network would like that particular book then send them a message. You can even write up a brief book review and post it on your blog. That way, your review is already shareable in the event that they choose to pass your review along to their network.
Want a book recommendation? Just reverse engineer your ask, and you’ll find that pretty soon you’ve got a long list of amazing books to read and an even longer list of people to share them with. This is a surefire way to start conversations in your network.
3. Create Alerts
You can set up alerts on Google, Hubspot, Social Mention and the like. Alerts help you stay current with trends specific to your industry, so you can have relevant things to discuss with your network in person or in the online sphere.
You can also set up alerts to notify you when individuals or companies in your network are mentioned. This is helpful when you want to send those individuals a quick email to let them know you saw their content and found it valuable.
4. Host a Mastermind Event
Want to connect with likeminded people in your industry? Organize meetups, small events, or full scale conferences. People will fly out to your city just for the fun (and excuse) of it, so long as your city is a semi-cool destination. Events give business professionals an excuse to get out of town. What’s more, these events can be expensed! So why not attend if the topic is targeted to you and your industry?
There’s so much value in being around others who are focused on the same pain points. But what if you don’t have the time to organize an event? Easy! You can hire a virtual assistant to handle these events for you, from start to finish. In fact, you can hire a virtual assistant to do almost everything in this article, except face-to-face meetings or phone calls where it’s necessary that you’re the one participating.
5. Social Media Outreach
Take the whole concept of alerts a step further by sharing your network’s news (so long as it’s relevant, engaging news) with your social networks. Use the relevant individual’s or company’s handle (e.g., @DeenaAnreise or @Prialto) in each social media post and share so the person or company will be notified.
Not big on social? Post an article on your blog about the news then send the link to the relevant party.
Don’t have a blog? Sheesh! You need to get one quick! In the meantime, make sure you’re sending out targeted weekly or monthly email newsletters to your network that include all of the cool things your network is doing. As an aside, you can throw a bit about yourself and your offerings in there.
Just remember, toot the horns of others louder and longer than you toot your own. People will take notice.
Turn Your Network Into a Referral Base
The individuals in your network will be much more open to sharing about you and your offerings with their networks when you consistently prove to be helpful and relevant to their needs.
Always look for ways to help the people in your network. The referrals will follow in time.
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