How much time are you currently dedicating to expanding your professional network? Some entrepreneurs attempt to build their businesses solely through the use of networking. However, others neglect the possibility altogether. And they have no idea what they’re missing out on.
The Benefits of Networking
So what exactly are the benefits of networking?
One of the most obvious benefits of networking is the potential to meet someone who has a need for your products or services. Or perhaps you’ll meet someone who knows someone who does. Building a client base through networking is entirely realistic. Further, it could be the leg-up your startup needs to start generating momentum.
Talking to other people in your city can also help you find out what’s going on in your area. Are there new commercial developments or opportunities for entrepreneurs? You could be among the first to know.
Partners and Employees
You could also use networking as a way to meet partners and employees to flesh out your team.
Mentors and Investors
The benefits of mentorship are highly underrated. Networking could be the perfect way to find a mentor who is interested in your future.
You might not immediately meet someone who can help you. However, networking frequently can increase your personal brand exposure. Naturally, this builds your reputation.
If all else fails, you can use networking as a chance to refine your elevator pitch on strangers. In this way, networking can get you used to talking to people about your business.
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How to Network
That all sounds good, but what if you don’t know where to start?
Fortunately, these options should introduce you to all the contacts you need—at least to get started. They’re some of the best places to network. That’s because you’ll meet lots of people. What’s more, some of them could help you reach your goals:
1. Join an Organization
First, you could join an organization specifically dedicated to entrepreneurs or professionals in your industry. One such organization is the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, or simply EO. This is a global organization for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs. These organizations already have thousands of members just like you. Further, they host events regularly so you can meet them.
2. Attend Local Meetups
Perhaps, though, you want to look for something non-organization-specific and local. In that case, you could use a site like Meetup or the classic Craigslist to find a gathering in your area. Depending on which angle you want to take, you could look for professional meetups or meetups for your favorite hobby or pastime.
3. Look for Networking-Specific Events
Aside from meetup sites, you could look for specific networking events. Often bars, restaurants, businesses, and organizations in your area will host these gatherings. Events intended as networking opportunities are ideal. That’s because they’re guaranteed to attract people looking to make new contacts.
4. Get on LinkedIn
As far as the major social media platforms are concerned, LinkedIn is still the best option for making new professional contacts. With an individual profile, you can join various Groups. From there, you can get involved with any discussion you feel passionate about. If you find an influencer, a local, or a noteworthy professional, you can reach out to them as a new connection. Then you can have a private conversation and potentially meet up in person.
Volunteering tends to attract both young professionals looking to expand their networks and seasoned professionals looking to give back to their community. If you have trouble finding an opportunity, you could use a site like Volunteer Match to look for a perfect fit.
6. Take a Class
You can always find interesting people in a classroom setting. Therefore, consider taking a new class in your area. If you take a class on building a business or anything related to finance and wealth, you can count on meeting other like-minded professionals. You might also find people you’re looking for at other, more casual classes. For instance, consider such classes as painting or yoga.
7. Attend Speeches and Forums
Keep an eye out for speeches, talks, and Q&A-style gatherings in your area. For example, is a business-related author you admire going on tour? Is he or she stopping by your city? Check out the event. Is there a summit for local entrepreneurs? Get a ticket and hang out in the lobby beforehand. You’ll get the chance to meet some of the most passionate businesspeople in your area. And if you pull the right strings, you could even land yourself a speaking engagement at the next gathering.
Look for Networking Opportunities Wherever You Are
Of course, networking isn’t limited to these 7 locations. You can meet new people and find exciting opportunities basically anywhere. Try striking up a conversation with your barista, or with the person sitting next to you on the bus. You never know whose “friend of a friend” could connect you to your next million-dollar opportunity.