Remember your school days? The classroom was a small pond, and everyone knew your story. But what happens when you want to swim in a bigger pond, especially as an established professional? Networking for business growth is not just about attending events; it’s about strategic expansion and meaningful conversations. Here are some business networking tips for established professionals looking to grow.
The Social Chameleon: Adapt and Thrive
Successful networkers are social chameleons. They adapt their communication style to fit the room they’re in. This isn’t about being fake; it’s about having a high degree of emotional intelligence and being culturally sensitive.
Real-World Example: The Power of Adaptability
When my business, Digital Marketing AOK, was doing well within two established networks, I could have settled. But I wanted to grow. So, I joined Brand South Australia, which later became Showcase SA. This move not only expanded my network but also positioned me as an expert in the South Australian business community.
Expanding Your Pond: Where to Next?
If you’re an established professional, you likely have a solid network. But to grow, you need to ask yourself, “Which network should I join next?” Google can be your best friend here. Search for ‘Business Networking’ and ‘Industry Associations’ to find your next pond.
Real-World Example: Continuous Growth
After establishing myself within Brand SA, I looked for another network and found the South Australian Tourism Industry Council. This move allowed me to offer the same value I provided to Brand SA, further solidifying my brand and expertise.
The Mechanics of Networking: Doing the Work
Once you’ve made a connection, the real work begins. Connect on LinkedIn, engage on social media, and invite them to events or coffee meetings. This is how you empower your networks for business growth.
Real-World Example: Nurturing Relationships
I met Justin, who works for an IT company, at an unstructured networking event. A year later, he reached out for help with a complex project. This opportunity materialized because I took the time to nurture the relationship.
Structured vs. Unstructured Networking: A Balanced Approach
Structured networking, like BNI chapters, offers a controlled environment, making it easier for unnatural networkers. However, unstructured events like Chamber of Commerce mixers are equally important. They may take time to yield benefits, but they’re excellent for starting conversations.
The Importance of Both
I’ve been part of BNI chapters and also engaged in unstructured networking. Both have their merits. While BNI offers a structured approach, unstructured events have led to meaningful, long-term relationships critical to my business growth.
The Art of Conversation: It’s Not About You
When networking, especially with successful people, the focus should be on the other person. Ask intelligent, probing questions and listen carefully to their answers. This approach not only makes you memorable but also opens doors for deeper connections.
The Power of Listening
By asking thoughtful questions and genuinely listening, you make an impression. This increases the likelihood that when you invite someone for coffee, they’ll accept, knowing they can have a meaningful conversation with you.
Adapt your communication style to fit your audience.
Be strategic in choosing your next networking pond.
Engage in both structured and unstructured networking for a balanced approach.
Nurture your relationships; it’s a long-term investment.
Focus on the other person during conversations for deeper connections.
Networking for business growth is a strategic endeavor, especially for established professionals. By being adaptable, choosing your networks wisely, and nurturing your relationships, you can successfully move to a bigger pond and achieve the growth you desire.