Studies suggest that networking at events can gain companies up to 20% of their new customers, and a networking strategy can also be the key to finding new investors and partners that will help to grow your business.
Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy for everyone to network successfully. some of us are shy, we’re not sure where to start, or we have not had great luck in the past.
Well…not only do you have to get used to the awkward initial introduction phase when you’re trying to make connections with others, but you’ve got some serious time constraints to worry about too. I get it! We are all busy. But are we busy with the right things?
Building connections takes time. But, as every accounting business owner knows, time is money. So how do you ensure that you’re still working on your networking strategy when you’re strapped for time?
Try these strategies…
1. Make It a Daily Habit
The more you practice networking as a daily habit, the more naturally it will fit into your day. OK, so let’s be honest – maybe weekly might work better for you. Just start somewhere.
Rather than setting aside an hour a week where you can go and talk to people who could help your business to grow, you use five minutes each day. Start the morning by sending emails to others online and connecting with your peers on social media platforms.
Put phone calls into your calendar and make the call.
If networking is as much of a habit as brushing your teeth or your hair, then it starts to feel more natural.
What’s more, when networking becomes a habit, it also emerges as something that you force yourself to make time for. You’re less likely to make excuses that you don’t have a moment to spare.
2. Leverage New Connections and the Connections of Your Connections
Networking isn’t just about building new relationships.
There’s a good chance that you already have some quality people in your existing network who could help to introduce you to important figures in your space. A great place to start building your network is inside your current network of professional connections. You might discover that your internal network has a lot more value to offer than you originally thought.
3. Amplify What You are Already Doing
If you already take part in social activities from time to time, why not use those as part of your networking strategy? If you regularly volunteer at nonprofit organizations, for example, then you can strike up conversations with people there. Season tickets to the Met? Talk to other regulars.
Even if you don’t gain any valuable connections, making the time to connect with others and practice your networking skills will benefit you in the long term. You can chat everywhere — from your gym to the grocery store. I gained a client once by saying hi to a stranger in a local restaurant.
4. Schedule Events in Advance
In other words, put it on the calendar. Not in a “I hope to do this thing” list, put it on your calendar right now. If you do want to make time for a specific in-person networking event, then it’s important to block it out so that nothing else “comes up”.
To help improve your chances of regularly networking, attempt to attend at least one each month – even if it’s an online event. Make a list of the events that you most want to attend and add them to your calendar, so you have plenty of time to prepare.
Be selective about the kind of events you choose. Ideally, you’ll want to visit an environment where you can reach people who are going to benefit you and your business.
5. Use Social Media
Yes, social media. Every accountant I have ever worked with starts out loathing the though of something else to maintain, but once they get into it, things start to happen.
Social media is one of the most popular, convenient, and even (yes – annoying) ways to network in these days of Zoom meetings and working from home way more than we ever did.
Make a little time each day to go through your LinkedIn connections. Do the same with Facebook. The key to success with social media networking is ensuring that you don’t spend all day there. Keep it social and remember that you are having conversations with people you already have conversations with – you are just shifting the narrative slightly.
Don’t Look Back.
Because you weren’t good at it or felt uncomfortable three years ago, does not mean it will not work today. Networking is vitally important for your success and that of your business.
I hope you keep these tips in mind. Keep it simple, and just put one foot in front of the other. Keep one other thing in mind, you will not gain ten new clients next week if you start today. Networking is about keeping up with things as they come up. It is about creating meaningful conversation, and not always about an elevator pitch.
Start here —> connect with me on LinkedIn at Linkedin.com/in/richardroppa. Tell me something about you. Tell me what you are looking for? A human to work with you? A new app? A conference friend? I’ll be sure to let you know how I can help. I’ll do the same.