If you’re just launching a new business, you probably realize that networking is an essential part of your growth strategy.
But knowing how to tackle that beast can be intimidating to say the least.
Networking is one of those concepts that sounds great in theory, but is much more difficult in practice. Network where, exactly? With whom? How? These are just a few of the questions that might be popping into your mind.
Business Networking: What Is it?
Business networking is essentially building relationships with others to bring in a steady stream of new leads.
It’s not just showing up for networking events and passing out your business cards…it means establishing real, personal connections with relevant, interested parties.
A good way to get started building relevant connections is to look for places where your peers and potential clients spend time. Ask yourself where your target audience participates. Is it:
In Facebook groups?
At local, in-person gatherings?
In threads on Reddit?
At industry meet-ups or in co-working spaces?
You should be aiming to connect with your peers (for referral opportunities) as well as customers who fit with your buyer personas. Both are invaluable to your business.
Once you’ve picked a few worthwhile places to devote some time to networking, the next step is to come up with your strategy.
The Many Forms Of Networking: Building A Strategy
Now that you’ve nailed down the ‘where” of your networking activities, it’s time to decide how you’ll approach it.
Networking your new business off the ground can take many forms. Largely, the route you choose will depend on your personal preferences. For example: If you’re not good in large groups, one-on-one meetings probably make more sense for you.
Your strategy might be:
Using email to connect with cold and warm leads
Meeting up for coffee with peers and well-connected individuals
Participating in online spaces and sharing your expertise
Testing the waters with industry meet-ups or local clubs
And for you, maybe it’s a mixture of these approaches. It all depends on what you’re comfortable with and what you find produces worthwhile results for your time investment.
If you’re not sure which option is best for you, try a few different paths to see where you gain the most traction. You may find that your time is much more wisely invested in email, or maybe you’ll discover that a local meet-up is teeming with a need for what you’re offering.
The bottom line: Give yourself room to experiment and test the waters.
Don’t Quit On It
Networking is an on-going activity. By regularly following up with potential clients, you keep a steady flow of work. Even if a potential client isn’t looking at the moment, create calendar reminders to check in with them every 2-3 weeks. Send them articles you read that you think they’d find useful, say Hello, offer to grab a cup of coffee…Be friendly and engage on the regular.
Network Your New Business Off The Ground
There are a lot of different ways you can network your new business off the ground. It’s up to you to test the different options and discover what works well for you, as much of business is a journey of trial and error.