Networking is great for small businesses. Can you make money instantly after networking? In most cases, the answer is no.
It takes time to build a solid relationship with others and allow the benefits of networking to surface. Nevertheless, it’s an essential way to gain key industry contacts and even receive a steady stream of referrals.
I know that if I want to grow my business or increase my income, I can go directly to my network and ask for leads, advice, and referrals. It just takes time to network before you can take advantage of those benefits.
If your business relies heavily on networking, you’ll need to make time for it along with all your other daily tasks. Here are a few ways to make it work.
Put a Few Industry Events on Your Calendar
You don’t need to attend a lot of events to be successful at networking. While meeting total strangers from time to time works, it may not be very effective. That’s why you should try networking internally. Look at the people you work with closely in your industry.
People in your industry can understand your needs better so it can save you time from having to introduce what you do and how you do it over and over again. Food bloggers understand other food bloggers best. Landscapers understand other landscapers best.
If the person you’re networking with is smart, they will view your business as a collaboration opportunity and not competition. I can’t even count how many referrals and opportunities I get from people in my exact industry. There is plenty of business to go around for everyone.
Besides, industry networking events are a great way to connect with people who work in a similar environment as you and potentially start a mastermind or support group.
You don’t have to go to events every week. Narrow down a few important ones whether it be a conference or once-a-month meetup. Conferences are great because you can do a ton of networking in just 2-4 days usually.
You’ll be pretty burned out after, but you’ll also have a ton of new contacts to follow up with throughout the year.
Multitask Networking With Other Events
You know what they say about multitasking – don’t do it! There’s an exception though, especially when it comes to networking. One of the best ways to network is to do it while you’re going about your day.
As a result, you won’t have to add any extra events to your schedule. What’s your weekly schedule already look like? Are you volunteering in community work or engaging with your religious assembly? Are you already meeting with a friend for lunch? Maybe they can invite a friend of theirs to tag along. Does the grocery store clerk seem pretty friendly and show an interest in your business? Perhaps you can exchange information and follow up.
Over the weekend, I went to a wedding and just happened to run into a guy and start talking with him about business. He asked me for a car and luckily, I had some on me.
So long as you are meeting people, you can take advantage of any opportunity to build networks.
Leverage Social Media
Of course, you have a Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Be sure to engage with your audience on these platforms and join other social groups to connect with new people.
If you’re going to be spending time scrolling on social media anyway, you might as well strike up a conversation and get to know other people and share more details about your business.
You can also do quick Twitter chats to network with companies or potential partners you’d like to work with in the future.
Schedule a Coworking Date
Have a lot of work to do but still want to network? Try scheduling a coworking “date” with a colleague. If you know other local business owners, you can meet for a quick lunch at a cafe to chat, then work alongside each other for a few hours.
I have a friend who sets up a regular coworking meetup with some entrepreneurs in the area and it’s a great opportunity for small talk and networking but it also allows each of the opportunity to crank out a ton of work as well.
Choose a day and time that works best with everyone then put it on your calendar once a week or once per month.
Set Up a Referral Program
You don’t have to spend months networking and building relationships. If you’re short on time, you can incentivize customers and clients to send you referrals of their own.
Running a referral program is one of the best ways to efficiently expand your network. You can offer a gift card, reward points, or a discount to anyone who sends you some new business as a referral.
That way, you don’t have to go out actively seeking leads and relationships with new people.
Whether in business or career, networking is essential when it comes to getting key industry contacts. That person you are standing next to or that’s in your Facebook group could turn out to be the mentor you have been looking for.
Even if the people in your networks don’t benefit you directly, they can connect you to others you will need in future.
Truth be told, networking is not easy. If you are trying to connect with as many people as possible, it could be hard for you to remain productive.
As you can see, you can still remain productive in your business, while maintaining your networking efforts. It takes a little bit of ingenuity and seizing the moment to build networks in the midst of a busy schedule. The good thing is that every effort you make will yield greater results in future.
Now let’s hear from you. Does networking play a role in driving your business forward? Do you do any of these things to network and still stay productive?
Choncé Maddox is a professional writer who recently left her job in the web design industry to produce killer content and manage her own writing business full time. She is passionate about helping entrepreneurs be more productive and create a life they love by doing fulfilling work. On the side, she runs a podcast and blogs about getting out of debt at MyDebtEpiphany.com.