Networking can be a great way to connect with people who can help grow your business. But how do you make the time you invest pay off? Sometimes the answer comes from a place you least expect. Here are five unconventional tips for networking that will help you stand out from the crowd and make more contacts.
Follow-up after a networking event but with a twist.
Firing off an email to someone you met isn’t ground breaking. But what you say in it can set you apart. Most people expect you to ask for something—a phone number, the name of a decision maker, or a referral.
So turn the tide by doing something unexpected. Mention a detail you remember about the conversation. For example, ask how that soccer game went. Describe what you can do for them – you might have a client who could use their services. Offer to introduce them and provide their contact information. Often people will reciprocate that good will with something that will help you.
Forward a link a month.
People are busy so you may not get their attention the first time. But someone who maintains regular contact is more likely to get noticed, especially when every contact contains something unexpected.
Each month, send your new contact a link to an article, a video, or a blog post that provides helpful information. For example, a business owner might like to see an article on the latest Facebook change. You can find many useful articles right here in TheWire that can be shared. Doing so can prompt them to contact you.
Don’t underestimate the value of asking about the weather when networking. According to researcher Justine Coupland, small talk like that plays a significant impact in ongoing and future relationships. It’s a nonthreatening way of breaking the ice, especially when the topic is not business related.
For many, sports is a topic that can generate passionate discussion. Not a sports fan? Don’t worry. The app, The Kroo, lets you search a sports team and stay up on the latest news. Movies.com does the same thing for contacts who are interested in films.
It’s OK to be an introvert.
Let’s face it. Entering a room full of people you don’t know can be pretty intimidating. Some people think they need to turn into an extrovert to meet other people. Surprisingly, the answer is just the opposite—come clean and be you.
The Young Entrepreneurial Council offers an unexpected tip—walk up and introduce yourself, then tell people this is your first time there and that you don’t know anyone. People tend to be drawn to authenticity. So being honest gets them on your side. They’re likely to introduce themselves and start a conversation. They might even introduce you to someone else.
Start Your Own Group.
You can join a group or you can start your own network. Begin by inviting your Facebook and LinkedIn contacts to meet. You might arrange for a guest speaker to talk or select a topic to discuss. Encourage your contacts to bring a friend. Facebook’s “create an event” function can help you get the word out and track who’s coming to your event.
In addition, the app, Meetup, lets you organize groups centered on a specific interest, like technology or marketing. It points you to already established groups in your area or helps you establish your own.
Networking can be an effective way to grow your business. But it takes time. Make it easier by starting with these unconventional tips to connect with people.