Most business owners would agree, it’s not what you know – rather who you know – that counts. Building a business is all about networking, and there’s no better way to get your foot in the door with new clients than to make friends with the movers and influencers in your industry.
If you do it right, you’ll meet decision-makers while also having a great time along the way. You might even end up with some lifelong friends.
Here are six more indirect places you could improve your network of business contacts.
Joining Sports, Social and Interest-based Clubs
Sharing a common interest isn’t just a way to make business contacts, it’s a great way of making friends, period. Joining a sport or social club is good for meeting like-minded people.
Do a comprehensive search online for interest-based groups centered around things you’re passionate about – you may be surprised how many local groups already exist, specific to your interests.
For example, Fast Lane Drive is a group of car enthusiasts San Diego, perfect for petrol heads in Southern California. Search by specifically by interest – and don’t forget to include your location in the terms you use to localize results.
Attend Networking Events, Conferences, and Exhibitions
Most business communities have networking groups, ideal for meeting existing influencers in your local scene. Going to conferences and exhibitions specific to your industry is another great way to meet people already in your line of work. You don’t need to do the hard sell – just introduce yourself and find a platform of common interest. You’re far more likely to stay in touch if you share interests and past-times – plus, it’s better than sticking purely to work talk.
Offer Opinion in Twitter Discussions
Twitter is excellent for keeping your ear to the ground and hearing industry murmurings or opinions. Join discussions, but remember not to just wage in with sales-speak – instead offer insight and valued advice. You wouldn’t do the hard sell on strangers, so, likewise, don’t do it in a Twitter discussion either.
Join in with the chat and offer solutions or alternative ideas to group conversations. It’s a great way to subtly show off your expertise and could lead to new business connections.
Get Introductions through Existing Contacts
There’s nothing wrong with asking for introductions from existing contacts. Indeed, you’ll find most people are more than happy to introduce you to their friends. As ever, try to find a common bond and think laterally. It’s surprising the number of business connections that have been made between seemingly disparate market sectors, where two companies came together and found innovative solutions by joining forces.
LinkedIn is almost a business version of Facebook and is the perfect place to promote your company. Develop your bio and be sure to include previous positions, experience, qualifications as well as a friendly and informed personal statement. If used correctly, LinkedIn can become a huge resource for finding new leads and contracts.
Contribute to Online Forums and Run a Blog
Contributing to online forums can indirectly prove your company’s abilities and experience. Offer engaging, discerning, and productive comments on online topics to show your expertise. If you also run an online blog, you can link back to it from forums to offer additional information or case studies, backing up your point. A blog is a great way to show your skills and knowledge, particularly by detailing previous work or contracts. It also helps hugely with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), pushing your website higher up the rankings.