As anyone in business can tell you, connections are everything! Opening up your network allows for not only an exchange of advice and ideas between colleagues but also widening opportunities that you may not have previously had access to. By seeking out those who are going through a similar journey, you may even be able to find someone who can help provide some perspective on some existing issues that require some experience you may not have yet. Now knowing where to go to find like-minded entrepreneurs and connecting with said entrepreneurs is a different story. Even knowing how to actually get the conversation going is something that may not come naturally to everyone.
If You’re Looking, Chances are That They are Too
Believe it or not, you are not the only one out there looking for others to grow your network. There are often websites for professionals to reach out and start a conversation via messaging or even websites used to promote events where you can go in person and get to know people in a generally more relaxed
environment. Some great resources to use online can even come from social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.
There is more often than not a business account feature. Invitations to events specifically for networking can be found anywhere online such as on business groups that you can join on Facebook, or websites like Eventbrite that make finding these things much easier. Now let’s get more into what can come from online networking and in-person networking.
Use The World That Is At Your Fingertips
First things first, you have to actually know where to go in order to build connections. Although there is always the possibility of coming across a budding entrepreneur like yourself naturally by being friendly, there are organized events that you can seek out. Thankfully we live in the age of technology where you have the world, and world population at your fingertips. Social media in this instance can become a very powerful resource as you can now simply look up tags with anything as vague as #business or anything as specific as #underwaterbasketweaving!
When it comes to online messaging and staying interactive on social media is the best way to go. Anything as simple as posting promo pictures or commenting on others’ posts is going to be good enough for you to start getting your name out there.
Now there is more than likely a word you may hear pretty often when it comes to social media and getting your name out there, and that word is algorithm. Essentially you want to interact as much as possible with the content that you can relate to the most so it shows up more in your everyday feed. Once you have honed in on what kind of network you want online, you can start taking a direct approach in reaching out to others who you think would be good to collaborate with, and send a direct message showing interest. Of course, you are going to have to get used to some rejection, but the object of the game is to at least extend a branch and open a line of communication. Anything as simple as “I love your approach to what you’ve done and I am trying to enter the space myself . Is there any advice you could give?” can help you get a conversation going.
It’s up to you to personalize your approach to how you want to reach out to others and really focus on what you are trying to achieve by building your network. Online networking has the advantage of being able to choose exactly who you want to connect with and has an open avenue to go ahead and reach out to other local businesses in the area or businesses across the country. Some good platforms to start your search would be LinkedIn, Shapr, or if you already have a Facebook account try looking into Facebook groups for entrepreneurs in your area.
So, Do You Come Here Often?
Even if you are more of a face-to-face kind of person your best bet is still to go ahead and start online. As naturally social creatures we are always looking to get together to share ideas and experiences. Knowing where to look is the tricky part and this is where we are able to use social media again to our advantage.
There are websites dedicated to promoting all kinds of events from conferences to casual cocktail hours. You can even apply filters on distance and price range. Websites such as Eventbrite can get you direct access to said events, and social media platforms such as Instagram are used to spread the word about upcoming events. More often than not with the right keywords you can find local link-ups dedicated to connecting people.
Making it there and actually meeting people can be the hard part for most. While some are naturally able to begin and maintain a conversation, others struggle with how to get things started. An obvious approach to this can be bringing a friend who is a little more extroverted and better at initiating conversation. Bringing a friend in general can make a huge difference by helping you feel more comfortable and confident in approaching others. A simple introduction can go a long way by getting you into the conversation and allowing you to jump in when you feel a little more comfortable. Try to keep an ear out for common interests and bring your knowledge to the table when you feel like you can add something to the conversation. By hearing from others and giving advice on issues you’ve come across, you’re more likely to get others to do the same for you and offer help when it comes to anything they may already have experience with. The main goal is to exchange opportunities and build an initial connection towards a relationship between businesses.
The Power of Human Connection
Regardless of how you approach your networking, the most important part is to remember mutual respect. Understanding the benefits that come with having a professional relationship is essential to expanding your circle. By connecting with those around you, you can stay ‘in the know’ when it comes to trends and spread awareness of what it is you are trying to achieve with your company. So go get out there and get started on expanding your network, and remember the more the merrier!