This is the blog transcript of our video “How to Build Your Business Network”. If you’d like to see more of our videos, you can subscribe to our YouTube channel here.
In a time where everyone is staying home, building your business network is more important than ever. It’s that much more difficult to get in front of people, and therefore, you have to be more intentional about how you bring in new clients.
Of course, networking has always been a huge part of running a business, but you’re less likely to stumble into a contact heading from your home office to your kitchen than you would be going about business as usual.
But where do you start? Today, we’re going to give you some tips on how to go about building your business network.
Hey everyone, I’m Ian Campbell, CEO of Mission Suite. Before we jump into today’s video, do me a favor and hit the subscribe button and ring the bell so that you’re notified whenever we post new videos.
For over ten years, I have used Mission Suite to help our clients get the most out of the contacts that they make in their business lives to help them get more meetings with leads and ultimately grow their businesses. And a huge part of that has to do with networking. After all, you can’t get the most out of your contacts if you’re starting at zero, right?
So how do you build this network of yours? And how do you build it now, of all times, when most people are spending their time indoors and away from everyone else? That’s what we’re here to talk about today.
Number one — join professional and alumni groups online.
Prior to all the chaos of 2020, a lot of these groups were in-person, but now, a good number of them still live on — only now they’re all online.
And that’s totally fine. Sure, you may need to get creative about how you make those connections but it’s still remarkably effective.
Plus, if you’re particularly anxious about introducing yourself to a group of strangers, Zoom isn’t a bad place to start.
As I touched on in the last video, it all starts with discovering and digging deeper into your niche. With everything going online these days, it’s easier than ever to find your place in it. And given how most of us commute from our bedrooms to our offices to work these days, you can really make the most of your time.
And let’s not forget all the people you met back in your school days. If you seek out your alumni group, chances are you can spark up an old friendship that could evolve into a real professional relationship.
Remember that, as far as groups go, it will likely take some trial and error. Not all networking groups were created equal, and it may take a bit of effort to find where your business truly belongs. But, at the end of the day, you want to also make sure that you’re going in with the right mindset, which leads us to our second point.
Be prepared to do some favors.
Networking can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a lot of work. Like all good things in life, you get what you put into it. If you just sit back like a wallflower, not engaging with anyone, chances are you’re not going to make much headway. So, what is the right mindset?
Think about your specialties, what your business does, and where your skills lie. In networking groups, many people come to meetings with their mind on some sort of specific goal or maybe even a problem that they need to resolve.
You want to set yourself to help out your fellow group members when you can. Even if you’re not sure how it will ultimately benefit you, it’s worth doing.
Like all relationships, a networking relationship requires some reciprocity. The more you show that you’re a helpful, integral person in the group, the more others will think positively about you and be more willing to help when YOU have a problem that needs solving.
Professional relationships are built on trust, and the more you present yourself as someone who is willing to go the extra mile for others, the more others will trust you and eventually be much more willing to refer you.
But keep in mind that it’s not just about other members LIKING you. It’s all about putting yourself out there so that you’re always on their mind. If they come across someone who needs your help, but you simply haven’t made enough of an impression for them to REMEMBER you, then you have a problem.
However, the more you put yourself out there, the more likely other contacts will remember you.
And remember that this doesn’t just apply to networking groups. It goes for every single one of your professional contacts.
Number three — nurture your contacts.
The expression “out of sight, out of mind” is pertinent when it comes to building strong referral relationships. And sadly, it’s true.
It’s easier to kickstart a professional relationship than it is to nurture one. To kickstart it, all you need to do is shoot someone an email or a call. But to nurture it, you need to keep your contacts in the front of your mind so that you can be on top of theirs.
It can be a bit of a juggling act, but it’s crucial. After all, you don’t want to be that person who only follows up when they need something.
So, what can you do?
Well, the obvious ones are regular phone calls or meetups, digital or otherwise. Of course, those take a lot of time and effort, and you can’t exactly offer that to everyone under the sun. But don’t forget that emails and texts can be your friend too.
It can be something as simple as a message to them on LinkedIn, or even a text. Maybe you can share a relevant article that made you think of them.
The key is to continuously be helpful and warm so that you can constantly be in their minds when it is most important.
And these digital touch points are where a platform like Mission Suite comes in. If you can automate things so that you’re not always having to write out the same emails on a regular basis, it can really help you out if you’re juggling a lot of contacts.
I know in today’s digital age, it can be difficult to keep up since there are so many potential points of connection. From in-person to social media, contacts can come from any number of places. How many of you have trouble keeping up with the sheer number of contacts? Let us know in the comments down below.
And don’t forget to give us a like if you’re getting something out of this video.
Number four — don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Yes, I mentioned before that you want to be as helpful as possible. But don’t be afraid to ask for help yourself either.
After all, a professional network is there for a reason. We can’t all be experts at everything, and we need others to help us with our blind spots.
And I can guarantee you, when that person is able to help you, they’ll appreciate it too. Most people love doing favors for others, and it’ll be another way for you to interact with them on a professional level and keep that connection alive.
Plus, it’s helpful to them. While you want to make sure you’re on their radar, them helping you keeps them on your radar.
The more you know how someone can help, the more likely you are to refer them to a friend when a situation arises. As you can see, the favor dynamic goes round and round, with everyone helping to pay it forward to everyone else.
Number five — stay on top of your industry.
This one should come as no surprise. In order to be effective professionals, we need to know the latest developments in our field.
So subscribe to some journals. Discover who the head honchos are at the biggest companies in your industry. Then, from there, follow them on social media platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter.
Not only will you find more innovative ways to help run your business, but you’ll likely also discover a ton of potential contacts worth engaging. Be it some of the titans of your industry or professionals in fields adjacent to yours, information is power.
And don’t forget another important byproduct of staying in the know.
By being engaged, you will likely also become privy to other key events. Conferences, webinars, you name it. These will open up other key networking opportunities that can help expand your web and make you that much more connected.
We wrote up a blog article and e-book that does an extensive deep dive into business networking that’s worth checking out whether you’re a newbie networker or a grizzled veteran.
You can check out the link to download the e-book in the description below.
Hey I hope you got something out of this video. And if you did, go ahead and give it a thumbs up and maybe a share so that others can see it too. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our channel and ring the bell so that you’re notified whenever we post new videos and while you’re at it, check out these videos too!
We’ll see you next time around!