Top tips on how to network like a pro in 2019:
- Be active on LinkedIn.
- Join and interact on relevant Facebook groups.
- Attend industry webinars, conferences and events.
- Have a business card.
Networking is pretty much essential if you want to get to the top of your game and then stay there. The people you build professional relationships with can present you with new opportunities, the latest industry news, offer different perspectives and even alter people’s perception of you.
Look at it this way; if there’s an influential person who is seen as an authority figure on that subject, you would be led to believe anyone in that industry who is linked to that person is also reputable, right? It’s similar to brands using social media influencers to advertise their products or services—consumers trust those people, therefore trusting the brand.
So, how do you build a network of relevant connections? We’ve listed a few ways for you to explore, as well as shared some tips for maintaining those relationships, once you have them.
Digital Network Opportunities
As of June, 2018, there was an estimated 4,208,571,287 internet users around the world. While it’s not very likely you’ll bump into even a quarter of these people (if that) in your lifetime, there’s an opportunity to connect with them online.
By looking in the right places, you can learn how other areas of Australia, or even other countries, practice in your industry, how they’re fairing in the current economic condition and share news, tips and advice.
What is LinkedIn?
This isn’t just any social media platform—it’s a social platform for professionals. Where better to build your network of contacts and news sources? Everyone from university students or job seekers to employees, business owners and experts in their industry would benefit from a LinkedIn profile.
A LinkedIn profile allows you to:
- Find and apply for jobs.
- Connect with other professionals in your field (or those of interest).
- Join and interact with relevant groups.
- Blog and share posts (also to read blogs and posts).
- Advance your knowledge with courses (paid feature).
How do you network with LinkedIn?
Establish Your Profile
The first thing you should focus on is completing your profile. Add a professional photo, current and past positions (including your responsibilities), education, awards and recognitions, a bio, skills (which can be endorsed by colleagues), languages you speak and more.
Connect with Relevant People
Next, connect with people you work with, past colleagues and other industry connections you have built in face-to-face settings. As you interact more on LinkedIn, your network will naturally grow, both by you connecting with people and people connecting with you.
You may also like to follow businesses on Instagram. For instance, you may follow a business such as Localsearch to receive the latest digital marketing and business news, tips and advice.
Establish Your Authority
What are you best at? It may be that you operate a business in a particular industry or you work for a business in your chosen field. Either way, you most likely have expertise to share, or at the very least, an opinion on topics related to your industry.
Create your own posts and publish articles on your LinkedIn profile. Stick to one topic per post or article, providing insight into what you know. Encourage people to share their opinion on the topic or add to it further. Have conversations and build genuine connections with other users.
While reading articles and posts on your feed, join in on or create discussions in the comments. Be friendly, approachable and contribute positively, while being careful to avoid debates and controversial topics.
Before You Network on Facebook.
Chances are, you probably have a personal Facebook page. Aside from being tagged in unflattering photos you don’t want to see the light of day, there are probably some things on your profile you wouldn’t want a professional connection to see.
Before you start using your personal Facebook for business networking, give it a thorough cleanse. Check your profile information, photos, posts and the pages you like, to start. It may be a good time to do a ‘purge’ of your friends list too. Of course, you can create a separate professional Facebook page and keep a friends-and-family-only profile on private to keep the two areas separate.
How do you network with Facebook?
There are groups on Facebook for pretty much every topic and industry you can think of. To find new groups, type an industry or topic you’re involved in into the search bar on Facebook and click on the Groups tab at top of the page. You will now see a list of groups relevant to your search, as well as filters to narrow your results.
Take a look at the groups we found by typing in plumbers and then hairdressers into the search bar.
You may have to request permission to join the group. Once you have access, make sure you read the pinned post at the top of the group, as it may indicate any rules the group has, including what you can post.
Now you’re in the group, contribute by commenting on other people’s posts and publishing your own relevant news, tips or discussion starters.
These groups will often have regular meetups so everyone can get to know each other on face-to-face terms. Take them up on as many of these opportunities as you can.
Live Webinars & eConferences
Registering and attending live webinars and eConferences is a great way to keep up to date with industry news. They also present an opportunity to network when you can’t attend events in person.
Most webinars and eConferences will have a live comment stream for participants. While there will often be a period before or after the web event to introduce yourself, add comments throughout the event when you have something useful to add. There may even be a forum as part of the webinar or eConference for you to discuss the topics raised during the event.
People will engage with you, and you may even find yourself with a few new connections.
Non-Digital Network Opportunities
Taking advantage of non-digital network opportunities can often mean having to step outside of your comfort zone—but it’s worth it. While business events may not happen as often as you can use digital networking, they are still valuable, and can be integrated into your digital methods to make maintaining a relationship easier.
Attend Conferences, Events & Industry Training
While we were discussing Facebook networking above, we mentioned meetups. Any chance you have to attend a conference, meetup, training session or any other type of professional event to develop your skills or get to know others in the industry, do it.
If you’re concerned about attending events such as these on your own, don’t be. Many people will also be on their own, and you can always find the official event information on LinkedIn, Facebook or online and see other people who are attending. You may even like to reach out with a, “Hey there, I see you’re also going to be at *insert event*. What are you hoping to get out of it?”
Be sure to dress professionally (whatever that means for your industry), mingle at intermissions and don’t be afraid to walk up to the speakers or organisers and introduce yourself.
We regularly hold our own digital marketing events, partnered with Google, which business owners find very useful for building a local network. See if we have one in your region.
Keep Business Cards On You At All Times
You never know when you will meet someone who may be interested in your business or be a good connection, such as at the events we talked about above. Being able to give a person a professional-looking business card with your name, contact information, current position, handles to your socials (including LinkedIn) and a website URL (if you have one) is invaluable. When they go through their pockets later, they will see your name and think, “Oh yeah, I was going to connect with this person on LinkedIn,” or, “Their website sounded interesting. Let me check that out.”
Tips on Maintaining Professional Relationships
The whole point of networking is to have valuable connections for the future. No one wants to be the person who only pops up in someone’s private messages or caller ID when they want something, so make sure you nurture business contacts.
Adding people on LinkedIn and interacting on their posts is a super simple way to maintain a relationship. However, don’t neglect to catch up in person if they’re close by. You can always plan your own meetups, inviting relevant connections to a location to all discuss the latest industry news or share stories.
You’re still reading? Get out there and network!