Having a good network of contacts is vital to the success of an entrepreneur. Thanks to social networks, the process of meeting potential customers and business contacts has evolved dramatically. However, many people believe (wrongly) that networking is a law of numbers – the more contacts the better and if you go to many places, they will increase your chances of building your business and your reputation.
But, this time, the ‘rule’ of numbers and that you need to attend numerous events is not the only option. There are less traditional and more effective ways to stand out from the mass and create a solid network of contacts. Here we share five creative strategies for networking:
- Create your network from scratch
Do you want to look like the kind of people who know everyone and understand your industry? Then, center your network around you. Start a new group on Facebook or LinkedIn and invite people who are related to the topic. Organize sessions and talks, be the host of small events and make people with similar interests know each other. The opportunities are endless.
These techniques can be especially effective for entrepreneurs who find traditional networking too challenging or difficult. When you are the host of your own networking event, you are building a way to put yourself on the map. It is not about selling, but about starting and facilitating an event or meeting that adds value to all the people involved.
- Be a volunteer
Become part of a group by volunteering and offering your help whenever possible. Many of the local charities are usually small and depend entirely on community involvement. Join a cause that you are passionate about, through an institution that supports it.
This is a great opportunity to meet other professionals who share an interest in the same cause. Your goal should be to see networking with the intention of serving, not selling. Only with this perspective will you create quality contacts.
- Talk to strangers
It is a natural reaction to gravitate only around the people we like, who we know and who we trust. But try to introduce yourself and sit with strangers at the next event you attend.
If you discover that someone is new to the city, ask him how you can help him. If the person needs a referral from a doctor, engineer or mechanic, give your advice and offer the contact, if you have one. Become a good source for others. So you can be the first person to call when an opportunity presents itself.
- Look for possible collaborations
The best networking is that between entrepreneurs from different but related fields. If your business network is only made up of people who are exactly the same as you, you will be missing out on great business opportunities. As an entrepreneur, you will have countless chances to collaborate creatively with people from other industries.
Think about your customers. Is there a product or service that you could offer when making an alliance with another person who has several contacts? Collaborations are an excellent strategy to demonstrate your expertise, meet new contacts (and customers) and diversify sources of income.
- Contact before an event
Love them or hate them, events continue to be the most common way of networking. If you will attend a conference or meeting, check on Twitter who is mentioning it and saying they will attend. Invite them to meet in a cafe or to eat. So you can generate several connections before even going to the event.
Finally, do not forget the most important thing in networking: monitoring. The more contact points you have with someone, the more likely it is to remember you. And don’t forget: there is nothing that leaves a positive impression more lasting than a handwritten thank you letter.