Written by Erin Daniels, KNOW Women
Expand Your Network, Leverage Your Connections
In a world driven by connections, networking has emerged as a fundamental skill for personal and professional growth. The ability to forge meaningful relationships, establish rapport, and tap into a vast network of like-minded individuals can open doors to endless possibilities. Whether you’re a newcomer looking to break into a field or an established professional seeking new opportunities, mastering the art of networking is essential. In this article, we will explore four crucial questions that delve into the intricacies of networking, providing valuable insights and practical strategies to help you build a robust and thriving network.
Read below to learn from high-achieving KNOW members on how they best create and leverage their connections, their non-negotiables when attending networking events, and their tips and tools for expanding their network.
When you attend an event, what is the first thing you do when you enter the room?
When I attend an event, I access the situation. As an introvert, I understand that everyone is not comfortable in the space. I find the most uncomfortable person and allow them the chance to be noticed. They are usually standing on a wall, with a plate or a drink…not making eye contact.
When I attend an event, the first thing that I do is scope out the attendees and try to find individuals or groups with similar interests. I firmly believe that making community connections is essential to developing meaningful relationships and fostering growth within any network. I often approach those connections with a positive attitude and look for opportunities to exchange ideas and expand my knowledge base. A 90-watt smile and excitement to just be there will get you very far
When I walk into an event, the first thing I do is make an effort to say hello to the host and thank them for planning the event. I recognize how much work goes into it and how much hosts appreciate a small gesture when their guests arrive!
What ways are most effective in leveraging your connections? What does your follow up look like?
I always look for collaborations between my connections, and I think this is the best way to leverage them. Usually, I find that businesses don’t need my services right away but may ask, “Do you know a business that can do this?” and then I introduce them to the person they’re looking for, and people always appreciate the kindness. I’ll make sure they’re in conversation first before I leave, and then I meet with each of the separately to make sure the connection has worked for them. This usually comes back as business because they appreciate that I made that first initial effort first.
1. Stay in touch: Keeping in contact with your connections is important as it keeps your name and face fresh in their minds. 2. Offer value: Ensure that you add value to your connection’s life or business needs by making introductions or offering to help them in any way possible. 3. Be specific: Clearly outlining what you’re looking for from your connection makes it easier for them to help you, contributing to an effective relationship. 4. Engage on social media: Engage with your connection’s content on social media platforms by commenting or reposting, maintaining active communication. 5. Attend events: Network in person by attending events relevant to your profession or business, and make meaningful connections there. 6. Give before expecting to receive: Offer your help, time or resources to your connections without any personal gain or expectation, resulting in goodwill and long-lasting relationships.
Be genuine! I always connect with contacts on LinkedIn and reach out to say it was nice meeting them or follow up on something if needed. I try to always give before expecting anything in return and offer to connect them to other contacts that may be beneficial.
What tools do you use to expand your network?
LinkedIn and attending networking events have been the most effective to make connections with new people that last.
I use attending events, speaking engagements, social media, and my Client Relationship Manager to help me expand my network. A huge step in expanding my business and getting more clients was when I realized I can’t do it all myself. I lean on my team and push myself out of my comfort zone to do speaking engagements, podcasts, and workshops to reach people I wouldn’t normally meet.
I love a good online networking platform! are Social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, enable you to join groups, engage in discussions, and reach out to potential contacts. It’s also helpful to attend local events, conferences, or workshops, which provide opportunities for face-to-face networking and relationship building, and can often lead to long-term connections.
What advice would you give to someone just beginning to expand their network?
Don’t be shy. Go to all the events you can, especially those that are free, local and the attendees will be of value to your network. Introduce yourself and learn more about them! On Social Media, you should engage with people that are like minded, that are potential customers, or potential vendors so that you can learn from them and gain knowledge that will help you grow your personal brand and network of go to people.
Hustle, hustle, and hustle at networking events! You want to make sure you get to connect with everyone in the room. And then make sure you go back to those events that have those familiar faces! It takes 7-touchpoints to land a client, and doing face to face connections are the fastest ways to close business! And then make sure you follow-up within 48 hours with a one-on-one conversation and get to know the potential business partner.
My advice for someone just beginning to expand their network is to attend networking events, travel for conferences, and use digital tools as a great way to follow up and stay connected! Remember that investing in events and networking is a business expense at the end of the year.
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