Are you looking for ways to optimize your time and effort when it comes to networking? Today, it takes a combination of using both online and offline strategies to make your connections count and help you grow your business. By joining groups in social networks, you can connect with prospects and referral sources to build relationships before you meet them in person. By strategically searching for events, you can spend more time at functions that also attract your ideal clients. Start at the web sites below and get networking!
LinkedIn – Your LinkedIn profile is only the first step in leveraging this powerful platform that is geared specifically to helping professionals connect with professionals. To expand your reach beyond your connections, look to join groups that will help you connect and share with your peers, purchasers of your products/services, and referral sources. Groups are local, regional, national and international. Many groups provide in person networking opportunities as well, so seek to join those groups to use both on line and off line connections. The groups tab is found in the top navigation on LinkedIn.
Facebook – While you may use Facebook for personal reasons, the groups feature provides an opportunity to either expand your brand reach with Facebook followers or provide you with a forum for more in depth discussion with your clients, prospects and friends. Many Facebook groups also provide in person networking events. Use keywords in the search bar to find groups related to your target market. Click here to learn more about Facebook groups.
Meet Up – A Meetup group is a local community of people that hosts Meetups, which are face to face meetings between members. There are thousands of business related groups for networking opportunities. Go to www.meetup.com and type in your topic or interest and zip code to search for a group near you.
After you have selected 3-5 potential groups online, make sure you introduce yourself to the group. Do Not Sell! Instead, focus on getting to know some of the members and looking for ways to connect.
Bonus to networking on line first. Most groups that hold face to face events ask members to RSVP on line. Before attending the event, review the RSVP list of attendees and look at their profiles to find out more about them. Now create a list of people you want to connect with before you attend the event.
Eventbrite – While some know of this web site as only a place to purchase tickets to an event, it is also a great resource to search events by date, price, location and category. The image below shows a search for business events in New Jersey.
Remember to be strategic in finding the groups and events that will best match your networking goals.