As an entrepreneur, you know how important it is to network and connect with successful business owners. Gaining connections with an established business network doesn’t happen overnight. It takes determination and persistence to create a solid network.
I can’t count how many times I’ve heard clients say, “If I could just get my foot in the door….” Thankfully, there are multiple ways to help you connect with established business networks. Read on to discover my top six tips.
1. Don’t Wait to Start
It is easy to procrastinate and tell yourself things like, “I’ll reach out to them tomorrow.” However, the most successful entrepreneurs don’t wait to get started with networking. Networking can be scary, especially if you are new in your industry.
One of the best ways to jump-start your networking efforts is to hire a business coach. Networking help is one of the many benefits of working with a business coach. The best business coaches have been in the industry for many years, and they come with a broad network of other business professionals.
Additionally, a business coach will help you set a plan and keep you accountable. Procrastinating is much harder with a talented coach by your side.
2. Request to Shadow Someone
If you’re looking to grow your resume, learn valuable skills, and connect with business professionals, consider volunteering or shadowing. I know that as an entrepreneur, there never seems to be enough time in a day. Time management is essential if you decide to shadow another business owner.
Shadowing will help you gain a feel for what day-to-day life is like in your industry. Other benefits of shadowing a business owner include:
- Expanding your network
- Making connections with executives and employees
- Learning helpful tips
- Gaining insight into other areas of your industry
3. Arrange an Informational Interview
An informational interview is not a formal job-seeking interview. Instead, it operates as a way to obtain information about an industry or business executive. Rather than vying for a job, you can use this time to ask any questions you have about the company.
Informational interviews allow you to gain insight into company culture and business structure to inform how you want to proceed with your business. To request an informative consultation, send a concise, respectful email to the company you want to connect with. Explain that you are an entrepreneur looking to gain business insight.
During the interview, share your business goals and what you are looking to learn from the company you’re speaking to. Before the interview ends, ask for names of other people to contact so you can continue to grow your network.
4. Interact Online
Most businesses invite people to connect with them online. Whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or a company blog, you should take advantage of a company’s online presence. Follow businesses you admire on social media and interact with their content by commenting and sharing.
LinkedIn is one of the easiest ways to connect with other entrepreneurs. You can find other business owners and executives in your industry on LinkedIn, and you can join their online network. You can send messages directly to other business professionals and keep tabs on the latest industry news.
The best ways to get the most out of LinkedIn are to:
- Join discussions in LinkedIn groups
- Utilize product and service pages
- Promote your business with groups
- Post status updates that encourage engagement
- Share and comment on other people’s content
5. Request an Introduction From a Colleague
In today’s world of accessible technology, it is easy to find email addresses and online profiles. You can directly reach out to business owners, but an even more efficient way to connect is through colleague introductions.
If you have a colleague with an established network, ask them if they would be willing to introduce you to people in their network. Even just mentioning your shared colleague’s name in an email will help you stand out from the crowd. People are more apt to connect when you come recommended by a trusted colleague.
A wise way to navigate colleague introductions is to offer one yourself. If your professional connection gets you in contact with a new network, offer to introduce them to someone you know. This way, networks continue to grow, and your colleague is more inclined to mention your name in rooms you’re not in.
6. Attend Networking Events
Networking events are designed to help people form professional connections. These events are a fantastic way to meet other professionals and get your foot in the door of a new network. There are many ways to find local networking events, such as:
- Talk to friends and colleagues
- Search networking sites such as Eventbrite and Meetup
- Check social media
- Subscribe to business newsletters
- Attend class reunions
- View calendars of local organizations such as libraries, co-working spaces, and the chamber of commerce
Going to a million networking events can be fun, but it can also be tiring and unproductive if you don’t get the most out of each event. Remember that networking doesn’t have to be forced. Business connections come down to making friendships and gaining business advice. To get the most out of each networking event, follow these tips:
- Decide what you want to achieve before you arrive. Your goal can be to meet two new people, connect with someone at a company you admire, or learn more about a particular topic.
- Prepare an elevator pitch about your business. Keep it short, and share it with new connections.
- Followup after the event. Don’t let a new connection go to waste by never reaching out. After you meet someone at a networking event, follow up via email or LinkedIn.
Don’t let your nerves get in the way of making new business connections. Most people at the event are probably nervous, and the best way to get rid of nerves is to participate. Join in on icebreaker games and start conversations.
Expand Your Network Today
As you can see, there are many ways to get your foot in the door with a business network. Whether it’s through online connections, in-person events, or with help from a business coach, you can expand your network in no time if you commit to starting today.
Networking requires determination and a positive attitude. If you need an efficient way to grow your network, consider working with a talented business coach at Jennifer Dawn Coaching. Get started today with a free 45-minute discovery call!