5 Tips for Improving Your Professional Network
In today’s business landscape, entrepreneurs and professionals need to nurture their networks. Being able to connect with like-minded people and even people outside your industry is a skill that’s guaranteed to propel you towards success. Through effective networking, you get to enhance your understanding of the business landscape, stay current with the latest trends, and learn new methods and tools that can help you reach short-term and long-term goals.
It doesn’t take much to become good at building professional connections. All you need is to learn the methods that can bring your professional network to a higher level. Here are a few you might want to consider.
1. Focus on sharing value
Networking isn’t just about building a relationship just so you can benefit from it. It’s also about providing other people and other brands value, whether in the form of knowledge or resources. Before making initial contact, ask yourself how you are going to help the other party. Once you have answered that question, it will be easier for you to build and maintain strong professional relationships.
2. Hone your elevator pitch
Having a great elevator pitch goes a long way when it comes to getting people interested in you. There is no standard to crafting one, but there are principles you will need to follow so you can build one that’s compelling and memorable. When drafting an elevator pitch, make sure to relate your business or profession to a possible problem they are facing. In this case, it’s important to conduct research on the person you want to connect with. Learn about their industry and “listen” to how they engage others on social media. Be relatable and consider the needs of the person first. Networking is not always about you.
In addition, keep your pitch concise and avoid being pushy. You don’t want to be too formal or too casual. Be clear with your message and don’t keep the other person guessing. Not being straightforward can only cause them to turn you down. You should also pick the right words and be courteous. Respect their time and there’s a good chance that they will win their trust.
3. Nurture your online image
Whether you are looking to build a personal brand from the ground up or find ways to rebrand yourself, you need to ensure your online presence is taken seriously by potential partners. That said, consider creating a brand kit and a complete LinkedIn profile. Add details about the work you do and the products or services you sell.
People are bound to search for you online to determine whether they should engage you further, so developing a professional online presence is vital. For this, you should make sure your social media profile won’t put you in a bad light. Your professional life should be separate from your personal life, so make sure to create a different account meant for professional networking. Using this account, consider sharing articles from websites like the Harvard Business Review. You can also publish motivational posts and valuable advice.
4. Lean on in-person meetings
Sending direct messages or emails to potential contacts offers some benefits, but it doesn’t match up to the advantages of face-to-face interactions. Business executives and professionals are more likely to connect when you exchange impactful business cards and have an authentic conversation with them. In case you reach out to them online, follow it up with a scheduled meeting over coffee where you can respond in real-time.
Once you have scheduled a meeting with someone, commit to the time and date unless either of you would request to reschedule. If the meeting pushes through as scheduled, be sure to arrive on time and break the ice before getting into the agenda. Start the conversation by introducing yourself and what you do. At this point, you will need to keep the other person relaxed and warm them up for the main reason why you want to connect with them.
5. Attend events in your industry
When it comes to building authentic relationships, look no further than in-person conferences, seminars, and other events that offer valuable networking opportunities. Since attendees in these industry events are motivated to build connections, it won’t be difficult to find potential allies and advocates for your brand. Zoom conferences are great, but they are not enough to let people know how you can help them reach their goals.
The quality of your professional network will define your brand’s future success. So, put your best foot forward and take time to develop not just partnerships but also friendships.