When you learn how to network, you improve not only your career but also your personal life. The best networkers have incredible businesses and careers, friendships and are always first in line for new opportunities. Networking in business helps you reach out to more clients and more importantly, share your lessons and successes with other business owners. This ultimately improves your confidence and reminds you to push harder regardless of the obstacles you face in business. Of course, they're various other ways you can benefit from networking.
We asked entrepreneurs and business owners to share the best tips and advice for networking and here are the responses.
#1- Prioritize lateral networking
The only tip I feel anyone needs when networking is always to prioritize lateral networking! Networking with peers and colleagues will always bring you more opportunities than trying to secure a non-reciprocal connection with someone you idolize. The fact is, networking needs to be reciprocal, and unless the mentors and admired professionals you connect with are very generous you will have a hard time getting anything from them. Peers, however, can help raise each other up.
Thanks to Gates Little, altLINE!
#2- Build genuine relationships
Build relationships on shared values, goals, and interests, not selfish pursuits. In networking, many people are self-serving with the relationships they build. By building relationships based on selfish intentions, the value of a relationship is greatly diminished. However, by truly bonding with others and building genuine, mutually beneficial relationships, your networking will be far more fruitful and rewarding.
Thanks to Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.!
#3- Share your interest
When you are following up with someone or even reaching out for the first time, make sure that you share an interest in and a positive comment about some recent work or project in which he or she has been engaged. It could be a podcast interview, a book, or a product launch. It also demonstrates to your contact that you are thoughtful, interested, and caring about the work they are putting into the world. Ideally, it will also make you a little more memorable and make the connection stronger.
Thanks to Nancy Sheed, Sheed Communications, LLC!
#4- Use Linkedin to expand
As a business owner, it is important to build and sustain strong relationships with people in your industry. Undoubtedly, social media is a great platform to do that. LinkedIn has proven to be a great platform to do that, especially in the past few years when physical events were impossible. Through LinkedIn, you can constantly expand your network and engage it by sharing your learnings, ideas, thoughts, and business updates. It will not only help you build your network but also create a strong social media presence.
Thanks to Adit Jain, Leena AI!
#5- Consider research and joining virtual events
Network with no expectations of gaining something in return. Focus your time and attention on connections you genuinely want to form and determine what value you can provide for them. Let your personality shine through your social media platforms while maintaining professionalism during correspondence. If you feel more comfortable networking in a more structured setting, consider researching and joining virtual networking events that align with your field and interests.
Thanks to Benjamin Farber, Bristol Associates, Inc.!
#6- Try to forge genuine friendships
This is really obvious, but my best networking tip is to just try to forge genuine friendships. This will create a stronger, more reliable network that you feel you can use repeatedly rather than calling in a single precious favor with an esteemed professional you met once at a conference. People seem to view networking as a gotta catch 'em all scenario, but it's really about finding people who share your passion, can help you out, or who you can help out down the line.
Thanks to Tory Jon, Camper FAQs!
#7- Search for people and interact on LinkedIn
Networking is all about having the confidence to reach out to people you admire and trying to connect with them. My biggest tip for networking is to search for people I want to connect with on LinkedIn or through other sources online. Then I reach out to them on those platforms and create a connection. After we have connected and started a friendship, I start to ask for business advice or share advice with them.
Thanks to Jordan Adair, ShirtMax!
#8- Always be ready with your pitch
Networking opportunities can be unpredictable, and it won’t be favorable when you’re offered one, but you don’t know what to say. Always be ready with your pitch when you’re looking to make a network. These encounters can take place anywhere, and you won’t have time to gather yourself and then start speaking. An excellent tip is constantly reiterating how what you’re offering will stand out. Remember, all of this heavily depends on having stellar communication skills.
Thanks to Perry Zheng, Cash Flow Marketplace!
#9- Don't limit what you think
Networking is one of the most effective ways to build connections and open new growth opportunities that are beneficial for your career, company, and/or personal development. The most important thing is to not limit what you think of as networking. Attending professional social and business events and joining industry-focused associations are typical opportunities.
Thanks to Valerie Chan, Plat4orm!
#10- Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date
All of the networking has shifted to social media, where we exchange our contacts, and share experiences and thoughts. Now no one calls anyone. Everyone writes messages or emails because it’s more convenient. That's how you remain your contact warm. Therefore, I would say that the best networking advice is to keep your Linkedin profile up to date. By doing so, you can maintain visibility & capture the attention of anyone checking in on your profile, proving your expertise, & credibility in the industry.
Thanks to Bogdan Pol, Lawrina!
#11- Present something that provides mutual benefit
My best networking tip would be to present something that provides a mutual benefit. Every person you’d meet and aspire to have a business relationship with will have one overarching question: what’s in it for me? If you can provide something they won’t be able to refuse (which would also benefit you), you’re doing the right thing. From there, a bond forms, which may or may not last long. But a friendship was nonetheless built.
Thanks to Jack Miller, How I Get Rid Of!
#12- Nurture the relationships
Don’t forget to nurture the relationships you’ve created. Make sure to stay in touch with your contacts, and take the time to learn more about their interests and goals. You can also offer to help them out with any projects or initiatives. Doing this will strengthen your connections and you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by a strong network of professionals who will be more than willing to help you out.
Thanks to Jensen Lee, bidetsPLUS!
#13- Connect with people sharing the same values
Connect with people who share the same values as you. Once I started building my network, I realized the importance of aligning myself with people who stand for the same things as I do for authenticity. A lot of business owners make the mistake of connecting with people because they have a large following but fail to realize that they go against their ideals which could potentially damage the presence they’ve built. In order to build a strong network, choose quality over quantity!
Thanks to Will Yang, Instrumentl!
#14- Create conversation on Twitter
Twitter has turned into a kind of niche social media platform designed for specific niches. Within these special niches, those people are obsessed with Twitter, while other people don’t understand it and have no interest. It can be a really helpful tool for business professionals who want to network and grow their personal brand a little bit. You have the microphone in your hands to share whatever you’d like and can create a conversation for others to participate. Twitter really is the best conversational tool, which makes it the best networking tool available as far as social media platforms.
Thanks to Jarrett McCraw, Mighty Branding!
#15- Be aware of online presence
A tip for effective networking is to always be aware of your online presence while using online networking tools. Clean up their online identity by setting up private accounts on social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram. Always remove questionable materials. present a positive image of the firm. Make sure to check the firm's name and the results by keeping a constant check on Google. Make connections through an online networking strategy. Maintain an active profile and keep the customers updated.
Thanks to Martin Betch, Hi-Van!
#16- Perfect your elevator pitch
My business networking tip for this year would be to perfect your elevator pitch (30 – 60 second business pitch) before you attend. Elevator pitches are really important for networking events as you have a limited amount of time to make a lasting impression on potential new clients. An effective elevator pitch should be clear and concise, highlighting the unique selling points of your business. Whilst having a good overview is important, it's important to tailor it to the person you're speaking to and their business, to make it more relevant on how you can benefit them more specifically.
Thanks to Matthew Pavli, Content Drive!
#17- Don't forget traditional in-person networking
As we all use online platforms like LinkedIn to network in a technologically advanced world, let’s not forget about traditional, in-person networking. There’s still a ton of value in talking face-to-face and there are plenty of opportunities and benefit from it. Take a look at local networking events, collaboration spaces, and any opportunities you see where you can meet different professionals. This is especially helpful because it gives you a chance to speak with people in the location where you live.
Thanks to Tim Woda, White Peak!
#18- Be open and approachable
Building strong connections for career exploration can be most effective when done through a little personal effort. One of the most important things is to be open and approachable. This means being willing to initiate conversations, introduce yourself to new people, and engage in genuine, meaningful interactions. It's also important to be prepared, which means having a clear understanding of your business and what you have to offer, as well as having a professional and up-to-date online presence. Choose a few venues or platforms for networking and strategize a plan to hook up with people.
Thanks to Rafal Mlodzki, Passport-Photo Online!
#19- Connect with other career shifters
Connecting with other career shifters who are also looking for new opportunities is one of the most beneficial and fulfilling aspects of networking. It’s especially rewarding to find others who’ve followed a similar career pathway. Once you’ve established a rapport with someone you’ve connected with, see if they’re willing to talk about their career and what tactics they’ve used to sustain success. Use your skill set and insight that you’ve acquired over the years to leverage networking into new information and new opportunities.
Thanks to Andrew Chen, Videeo!
#20- Be proactive in approaching
The single most networking tip that has worked wonders for me is having the courage to initiate a conversation. I always encourage youngsters and anybody who turns to me for networking advice to be more proactive in their networking approach. Instead of waiting for your potential contact to reach out to you, try and make the first move whenever you can. You can start by being friendly or offering assistance. Make things happen!
Thanks to R P Singh, Seasia Infotech!
# 21- Be authentic and direct
My advice on networking comes from my own experience: be authentic and direct. Business owners and A-players I seek to build relationships with our sharp, busy, and realistic. Just as I do, they appreciate potential new connections. But the key is finding balance in how you engage for the first time. Come from left field with no perceivable relation or relevance and you’ll be dismissed as random or worse, spammy. Do too much research to try to find common ground before your intro and you risk seeming creepy.
Thanks to Alia Grant, Iglu!
#22- Put yourself out there
You can’t network sitting at the office or at home. You must get out and be where your peers and leaders are. Conferences are a great way to meet other professionals in your field and build your network. Identify the individuals whom you respect and introduce yourself. After the session introduce yourself and share your business card. Attend the social gatherings most conferences offer. Instead of sitting at a table with those you know, circulate. Insert yourself where appropriate into different groups and make new contacts. To increase your network, you must be willing to put yourself out there.
Thanks to Caroline Duggan, Lumineux!
#23- Know yourself first
For me, networking is always a pain. I always recommend you start with knowing yourself, your strengths, and your weaknesses, and then finding a group that matches that. In a lot of networking groups, I found myself doing a lot of work for free. That’s when I found an organization called Entrepreneurs Organization. This is strictly a non-solicitation networking group, and it’s a peer-to-peer advisory group, but I highly recommend any entrepreneur or CEO join. If you’re more of a one-on-one type of networker, stick to groups and organizations within your industry.
Thanks to Aaron Watters, Leadhub!
#24- Be a go-giver
I first saw this term as the title of a book, but it’s a concept I’ve made use of throughout my career. Being a “go-giver” means you’re proactive in seeking out ways you can enrich the lives of others, rather than thinking about what they can do for you. People are more likely to remember someone who helps them out than someone they just meet in passing. When you’re talking to people, keep your ears open for any problems or challenges they mention and consider whether you would be able to help.
Thanks to Archie Payne, CalTek Staffing!
#25- Join industry-specific groups
One of the best ways to expand one's network is by joining industry-specific groups on LinkedIn. This allows people within the same field to socialize, share thoughts and discussions and open a channel of communication that allows them to interact together and make their thoughts and opinions known leaving an impression on those within a similar field. This helps grow your network and gain recognition as an expert in your field.
Thanks to Denise Hemke, Checkr!
#26- Podcasts drive conversations
Podcasts are excellent for driving conversations and meeting others in your industry. Podcast guesting enables you to leverage other people's already engaged audiences to expand awareness of your brand and generate greater interest in your business. In other words, you get instant access to thousands of targeted listeners eager to hear your story and expert insights. And as podcast hosts typically include your contact links in the show notes, business pros—and qualified prospects—are likely to reach out to connect with you even as the show airs.
Thanks to Daniel Kroytor, Tailored Pay!
#27- Introduce yourself at a large event
Knowing how to break the ice is vital to standing out in a large professional online community. And your LinkedIn URL is a virtual business card you can quickly hand out at online networking events, enabling you to connect directly with decision-makers on the social platform. And knowing precisely what they want to hear is vital to keeping the conversation flowing. Researching the LinkedIn profiles of these stakeholders helps you determine their unique needs so you can craft content that addresses their challenges.
Thanks to Chris Gadek, AdQuick!
#28- Invest in refining your skills
As far as networking goes, the first step is to become an absolute expert in what you do. Investing resources to refine my skills is what helped me build my name and gain the confidence to widen my professional network. Once you become an expert, I'd highly advise creating authority pieces on various topics in your field, and connecting with other experts through that. Once you have built a stable network, you can utilize it to reach even more people and build a circle of professionals around you.
Thanks to Jeremy Clifford, RouterCtrl!
#29- Attend industry-related conferences
If you're looking to expand your network, there's no better way than to attend industry-related conferences and events. There are newsletters and websites you can subscribe to in each industry to send you the upcoming events happening in your area and give you the opportunity to make an appearance, be seen and identified as an industry expert, and get to know others in your relevant field. This will help open up opportunities, provide collaboration opportunities and make a name for yourself in the industry.
Thanks to Peyton Robinson, Foter!
#30- Listen with the intent to serve
True connection happens when you are “present” in the moment. So, listening with the intent to serve and to give more than you are looking to receive builds trust with your connections. Then follow up with those connections that you can truly work with; make sure there is a synergy between your respective work. Do “one-to-one” meetings as this is where you will find common connections, topics, and clients that you both can serve. I always say, “The profit is in the follow-up!”
Thanks to Jane Parmel, Cardinal Profit Strategies!