It’s no great secret that your and your business partners’ professional networks will undeniably aid you in aiding your company expand, enter new markets and gain new clients. But the question is, if you don’t have an access to a strong professional network – how can you build it? And more importantly how can you actualize it?
1. University Alumni – University alumni networks are a great place to start building your network. You and the others have one fairly strong thing in common, which is your school, most if not all universities have alumni networks and encourage their alumni to work together.
If you have access to an online database – even better, but when contacting people you effectively don’t know, it’s important not to come off as if you’re selling something. Be inquisitive ask questions, and see if you can have a sit down over some coffee. Basically, get to know the person before you ask them for a favor.
2. Local Group Meetings – Cities will typically have interest based clubs / meetings which focus on any given subject or topic – a good place to find these groups is meetup.com – and while typically you won’t find the crème de la crème of your industry, it’s a good way in nonetheless.
3. Family – Talk to moms, dads, uncles, aunts and other family members. You never know whom someone may know, and that someone they may know may be the person that you need to speak to. Family can oftentimes be a great starting point for your network.
4. Online Networks – LinkedIn and Xing are a great way to expand your network as well. If you haven’t joined any groups that are of interest to you, do so, and more importantly, start conversations and topic on those groups that are of interest to you.
5. Conferences – Conferences are a great place to meet people, and more importantly people in your industry, though before heading to any conference do some research on it, see what others have said, and if it’s worth going.
6. Private Clubs – There is an array of clubs around the world that can help foster networking, be they Alumni Clubs such as the Cornell Club in New York, or the Royal Automobile Club in London, one thing is certain, your membership will have clear benefits.
7. Personality – Some people have it easier than others. For some who are extroverts meeting other people is as simple as turning on the kettle, for introverted individuals meeting new people can be quite difficult.