“Your network is your net worth.”
It’s a quote as old as time and it stands as strong today as it did when it was first uttered. According to LinkedIn, 80% of professionals say networking is crucial to their career success.
But networking has evolved over the years. While face-to-face was the norm pre-pandemic, COVID-19 forced us to embrace online networking. It saw mixed reactions. One study found that 80% of people preferred in-person networking to networking online.
Today’s networking requires a balance of digital and physical activity. Navigating these waters can be unsteady work, so we’ve pulled together our top five modern networking tips to help you win new business.
After all, 35% of professionals surveyed by LinkedIn said a casual conversation on their platform has led to a new opportunity – and 61% agree that regular online interaction with their professional network can lead to the way into possible job opportunities.
Here are our top five tips.
1. Use your LinkedIn to its full potential
For networking veterans, LinkedIn might feel like a pale imitation of in-person meet ups. But the truth is that it works in tandem with physical events. Platforms like LinkedIn provide opportunities to connect with like-minded professionals, potential clients, and industry influencers before you’ve even reached an event.
Like most tools, it’s only as useful as the worker using it. Make sure you build a compelling online presence by sharing insightful content, engaging in conversations, and actively participating in relevant groups. If you’re headed to a conference, be sure to check out your feed to see if any of your network are also attending (maybe even post that you’re going yourself) so you can pre-arrange to meet up with contacts ahead of the day.
Used well, your LinkedIn platform can become the digital equivalent of an always-on keynote speaker slot at a physical event – broadcasting your insight to hundreds, if not thousands, of like-minded professionals.
2. Make physical events count
According to events specialist, Bizzabo, 84% of organisations agree virtual events are more cost-effective than in-person events, and 41% of attendees would only attend a physical event in-person if it was local.
Physical events still dominate, though. 88% of companies are getting back to physical events in some form or another. But with the rise of environmental considerations of physical events coupled with the work-from-home revolution, physical events today need to have a strong pull to bring in an audience.
So make them count. If you’re off to a physical event or are hosting one, make sure there are enough interactive experiences there to make it worth your while. Online networking is convenient, but in-person interactions still hold tremendous value in creating lasting connections.
Research relevant events in your industry, both local and international, and make a point to attend them. Come prepared with business cards, a clear elevator pitch, and genuine interest in others. Remember, networking is not just about what you can gain, but also about how you can add value to others. Actively listen, ask insightful questions, and follow up with your new contacts after the event to solidify the connection.
3. Collaborate with others to leverage each other’s networks
In the age of social media, influencers and thought leaders have a significant impact on industries and consumer behaviour. They can also have large networks for you to tap into in exchange for exposure in your own.
Building relationships with these key individuals can provide a substantial boost to your business. Start by identifying influential figures in your field, be that manufacturing, leasing, medical equipment or any other, and engage with their content.
Share their insights, provide thoughtful comments, and offer to collaborate on projects or share expertise through methods such as shared thought leadership pieces. By establishing rapport and demonstrating mutual value, you can leverage their network and reach a broader audience.
4. Build strong referral networks
Referrals are a powerful way to generate new business.
People are more likely to trust recommendations from someone they know rather than traditional advertising – especially when it comes to digital advertising, which is proven to generate less trust than physical.
Actively build and nurture your referral network by maintaining strong relationships with existing clients and offering incentives for referrals. Also, think about joining professional organisations and networking groups where you can meet potential referral partners and exchange recommendations.
Always remember – providing exceptional service to your existing clients is the best way to generate organic referrals.
5. Don’t be afraid to follow up
The digital age has ushered in a reluctance to pick up the phone and speak to people.
Networking doesn't end after the initial meeting or conversation; it's the follow-up that cements the connection and opens doors to potential business opportunities. Be diligent in following up with your contacts, whether it's a simple thank-you email, a LinkedIn message, or a personalised note – there have never been more ways to reach out and keep a lead warm.
Show genuine interest in their work, ask about their challenges, and offer assistance if relevant. By staying top-of-mind and maintaining regular communication, you increase the likelihood of being considered for future collaborations or referrals.
Seamlessly blend the digital and the
physical for maximum impact
Networking in a post-pandemic world doesn’t discriminate between digital and physical interactions. Your prospects will have their own working styles – remote, hybrid, fully office-based – and your networking style needs to be able to adapt to fit their schedule.
Networking and building first class working relationships with our partners is at the heart of what we do at GRENKE. We have a network of branches around the UK which means that we are geographically close to our partners and can provide them and their customers with additional support as and when needed.
Find out more about the advantages of becoming a GRENKE partner today.