When you’re juggling a multitude of tasks as a business owner, there can often be little time left for networking events, even when you operate from a shared office space. However, according to the Oxford Economics Study, in-person meetings double sales conversions, clearly stating the need for human connection. Luckily, in another survey by MOO.com, they reported bars and restaurants as the most successful places to network, followed by the gym – showing that you can mix things up.
Therefore, in the search for the holy grail and a way to ‘hack’ networking, we’ve found 5 strategies that don’t involve cocktail tables or name tags:
1. Set networking goals and objectives
Do some research into your industry to understand the landscape – who are your competitors, your potential supporters and ideal collaborators that could benefit from what you have to offer and vice versa.
Select three people who will be of most significance to you and your business, and from there, work backwards and figure out how you can connect with them. Build your networking activity solely around these goals.
2. Be a connector and contributor
Instead of being focused on what networking can do for you, shift your focus onto what you can do for your network. Constantly seek to recommend members of your community to potential clients or collaborators. People will be thankful for your support and will always keep you top-of-mind, and in good regard when they are speaking to others.
This doesn’t have to take much time. You can start by setting yourself a target to have 2 new conversations each week with people at your gym, co-working space, coffee shop, etc. and constantly ask, ‘what can I do for them?’.
3. Never eat alone
Following on from strategy 2, you can have lunch with a different person daily right here at CoWork Me, your very own coworking space in St Kilda and you’ll be amazed by how many relationships you can build in that time.
We all have to eat, so there is zero time lost in this venture. Make sure to make eye contact. A study of over 3,000 people revealed that adults make eye contact between 30% and 60% of the time in an average conversation, but people should be making eye contact 60% to 70% of the time to create a sense of emotional connection.
4. Leverage social media
LinkedIn is officially the most used social media platform amongst Fortune 500 companies, and they make it easy for you to stay up to date with the interests, achievements, and notable events of key business people
Take 5 minutes each morning to look at your notifications and send a fast message congratulating a member of your network on a life goal, a birthday or a job anniversary. You could even write a quick but thoughtful reply to a post they have shared.
Just make sure to time this activity and stay focused. Always keep asking yourself, ‘how is this aligned with my goals and objectives?’ One message a day to the right person can completely pivot your networking game with no time lost.
5. Host networking events
If the idea of daily social media check-ins or lunches makes you run for the hills, then maybe the old school approach is for you. Consolidate 2-3 hours every two weeks for holding your own networking event where you invite key industry players.
Do a little homework prior to the event so you already know who will have some mutual ground. Perhaps you know that someone is developing a new product and they need a good design team… hey presto, you are now a valued connector.
To take the pressure off, organise these events at the launch of an exciting restaurant or venue in town, so people have an additional reason to attend. Plus, this strategy can only add to the perception that you are the person ‘in-the-know.’
Let us know what works for you and if you have some awesome ideas for community events, we are always here to support!