As the old adage goes, “No man is an island.”
This saying points towards solitude not being ideal, especially when you’re going after real success. Sure, there are some things best done alone and there are people who prefer being left to their own devices. However, when you want to extend your reach and do more, that’s when connections really start to count.
It’s not what you know …
There’s that old saying that goes, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Perhaps it has been thrown around way too much these days, but it has never become any less true over the years.
Good things do come to those who happen to know the right people, which is why networking is so important.
It doesn’t just end there.
You also have to build connections with your target audience in order to give more and get more. The point here is to make human connections; they’re not just numbers on your balance sheet. By understanding you need to establish connections, you’re one step closer toward having the right people in your corner.
There are quite a few things you need to do in order to do this, but it’s all worth the effort, especially if you really want to build awareness. Here are some things you can do to slowly but surely build those coveted connections.
1. Pull out a well-designed business card.
You can meet with people, talk to them for around 10 minutes, and things go well. But what are the chances that someone will remember you and access your contact details, if you never gave them a business card?
Business cards are still a pretty big deal, even in the Internet age, because promoting yourself will never go out of fashion. Your business card design must be clean and should represent you as an individual while still containing necessary information.
2. Identify and attend relevant networking events.
Once you have your business cards in hand and a winning smile, you’ll have to go where the people are. The best place to meet like-minded people are at conventions and industry functions related to your niche. You may be apprehensive at first (since not everyone is a social butterfly), but with enough practice and experience, you’ll find your comfort zone and soon be able to mingle.
Some successful people view networking as supplementary, while others think of it as a business survival skill. Whatever you use it for, networking is undeniably beneficial to interact with peers.
3. Keep it classy on social media.
Since we live in the social media age, how you present yourself on social platforms can mean the difference between striking a home run and turning people off from doing business with you.
Okay, perhaps it’s not that serious. You can still have fun online, but do know where to draw the line? When it comes to what you say and do on social media, you are reinforcing your brand (for the good and the bad). Share sensible things on social media, and people will hopefully be sensible with you.
On LinkedIn, keep it as professional as possible. Your Facebook and Twitter profiles should reflect how you do business. When you share your contact information it should include key social media profiles; a hint that they’ll be able to learn more about you. Carry yourself in a positive light, albeit not a fake one.
4. Practice ‘authenticity’ and leave your representative at home.
This is a big buzzword these days, and for good reason. Being authentic is what separates you from those slimeballs who you’d rather not entertain.
When you’re authentic (specifically, in how you present yourself) you’re more personable, approachable, and friendly. People are more trusting of you because you’re showing them your true self, and not a representative.
When others can admire the “whole person” that you are, it makes the relationships you build even stronger over time. You are human above all else and people want that!
Of course, you want to present yourself as a strong and capable entrepreneur who knows what they’re doing, but it can still be done through being authentic and real.
5. Let go of expectations.
When you build relationships, you can’t put people into molds because you’ll eventually be disappointed. Go into networking with an open mind. Let people be who they really are.
Authenticity is a give and take dynamic wherein you should be able to be yourself and let others be themselves as well. If you go in with unrealistic expectation of others, things will get sad for you in the long run.
When you let go of preconceived notions and unrealistic expectations and network with the desire to simply meet new people, you might be surprised with the individuals you meet along the way. This is true in business and in life itself—the best people come from the most unexpected places.
Networking is all about playing the long game. It’s not about shortcuts and quick hits; this is about “slow and steady wins the race.” Your goal is to build connections for long-term success and give back afterwards.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Jack Rivera, a business and marketing blogger, is a Digital Marketing Consultant for YouPrint.com. A proud father to two sons, he also loves playing chess, hearthstone and magic: the gathering. Connect with @youprint on Twitter.
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