I love it when people say to me, “is there anyone you don’t know?”.
If I could spend all day meeting new people to connect to people I already know and get paid for it, I’d be a happy bunny.
Since I’ve become self-employed, I would guess that a good 80% of work has come through people I know. Networking doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and you do have to psyche yourself up for it at times, but the rewards are great if done properly. Not only do you find yourself meeting inspiring people, it feels like free education or knowledge exchange at times. The trick then is maintaining contact with your network, for which there is a lot of advice out there these days – writing and distributing meaningful content probably being top of the list.
This Forbes article helps with some of the traits and behaviours you need to be a good networker. Fortunately, these days we have technology at our disposal to prompt and assist. LinkedIn was obviously a game changer, but here are a few of the other things I suggest to help expand your networks.
– Register with Meetup – find interest groups around professional interests.
– Keep an eye on Eventbrite for events that may be of interest to you.
– Register with a shared workspace business – I recently joined Campus London (Google) to meet likeminded individuals in business, and as the owner of a tech start up. I think more senior executives should do this to network with businesses outside their own. Helps to boost creativity and expand your mind!
– Make the most of your Facebook connections – no one wants to be bombarded with the latest ‘network marketing’ business that you have joined, but it’s not a bad idea to remind them of what you do for work, and that you could do with a hand with meeting new people on occasion.
– Find networks / LinkedIn groups that work for you and your sector – these are also a good source of seminars and workshops. I am a member of a few women’s networking groups and they have been a great source of free training, connections and advice over the years.
– Use apps like Shapr, which is like Tindr for business professionals looking to make meaningful connections.