Even in today’s tech-fuelled society, the age old saying still holds weight; It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
Building a broad professional network is the key to unlocking business opportunities, obtaining more clients, and completing more sales. Plus, your network will come in handy if you ever need a new job.
But no matter what your objective, having a wide professional reach is valuable in any industry, and in any circumstance.
To grow your professional network, here are seven simple strategies that even a networking newbie can employ.
1. Use LinkedIn
If only there was a social network built specifically with professional networking in mind. Oh, wait, there is!
LinkedIn lets you construct your own professional profile, join industry-specific groups, connect with like-minded people, and share content.
However, the key to LinkedIn networking is to be genuinely proactive. If you just create your profile only to close the tab and never return; you’re doing it wrong.
2. Attend Events
Not every event is labelled as a “networking event”, but every event is indeed an opportunity to network.
Conferences, fundraisers and tradeshows are all great places to meet new people, so attend the ones that will attract the type of contacts whom you wish to befriend.
Oh, and don’t forget your business cards when you do.
3. Start Local
Branching out far and wide is a good thing, but don’t forget about your roots.
Your home city – and even your home town – are good places to start expanding your professional network.
Focus your energy on attending localized events and arranging meetings with local entrepreneurs and businesses. Your close proximity to them will work in your favour.
4. Join Facebook Groups
Facebook may not be business-centric like LinkedIn, but if you do some searching, you’re highly likely to find a Facebook Group that closely aligns with your industry.
Once you join a relevant group or two, you can post up information and engage with other group members.
5. Befriend Venture Capitalists
Okay, so this one may not be easy, but it is an awesome shortcut for locating high calibre contacts with considerably less effort.
The average venture capitalist will possess a broad portfolio of companies and entrepreneurs whom they consider to be full of potential.
If you can connect with a venture capitalist, you can tap into their network by asking them to introduce you to their most interesting prospects.
6. Look Outside Your Niche
Don’t belittle a contact that isn’t directly involved in your industry, you never know when they might come in handy.
Plus, by being less selective with who you connect with, you may eventually find somebody who can introduce you to a contact who does work in your industry. They call that a double whammy in the networking world (not really).
To branch out of your niche, attend alumni events, volunteer for causes you care about, work out of a co-working hub, and join industry-agnostic business groups.
The easiest way to gain new contacts is through the contacts you already have.
Be bold by asking associates and former-colleagues to introduce you to people in your industry – or to simply keep you in mind if they ever meet anybody who may benefit from knowing you.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for recommendations. You may be surprised by what you can find so close to home.
The Internet age may have streamlined much of the process, but professional networking still requires effort.
You can’t rely on your derelict LinkedIn profile to attract contacts. You have to be proactive, outgoing, and maybe even a little daring.
About the Author
Kaya Ismail is a wordsmith and founder of Employ the Internet. He is a seasoned content marketer with a love for video games and coffee.