Use These Networking Tips to Open Up New Business Opportunities
The right professional community can make all the difference when it comes to growing and scaling your business.
Business networking is often thought of as a time-consuming process, and that can certainly be true. However, it’s also possible to grow your professional network without spending countless hours attending conferences and coffee meet-ups.
In this guide, we'll share some tips that only require a small amount of extra time each week. If you can dedicate an hour or two to business networking each week, you can find the community you and your business need to thrive.
1. Update your LinkedIn profile
Keeping your LinkedIn profile up-to-date can provide a helpful organic boost to your networking efforts.
That’s because LinkedIn has a setting that allows you to notify your network about certain types of changes to your profile.
Updating your LinkedIn profile, then sharing those updates with your network, is an easy way to keep your name on the radar of your professional contacts. You never know, seeing an update may even inspire someone to get in touch about an opportunity that’s a perfect fit for your business.
2. Join LinkedIn groups and other online communities
If you aren’t already a member of online groups that are related to your profession or industry, here’s how to find the right communities on LinkedIn:
- Navigate to the search bar and enter some keywords or do a blank search by hitting Enter without typing anything into the search box. The blank search option will bring up groups that LinkedIn thinks might interest you.
- Find a few groups that represent a variety of sizes, from small communities with less than 100 members to large groups with thousands of members.
- Make sure every group you join is active. To do this, check that there has been discussion within the group in the past week.
LinkedIn is the de-facto professional networking tool, but it’s not the only place to find your ideal online communities. You can also use a search engine to check for additional communities that might help you expand your business network.
3. Leave comments in online communities
Joining groups is the first step, but you also need to participate. When you’re ready to join a discussion, keep the following in mind:
- Don’t go in with the goal of promoting your business. Instead, think about sharing your expertise and adding value to the discussion.
- Low-effort comments like “I agree!” aren’t valuable. Aim to expand on what’s already been said, add new information, or share a relevant experience that adds to the discussion.
- It’s okay to disagree, but always stay polite (even if someone says something that really makes you angry.)
- Feel free to comment on old discussions, especially if you have something to add that the other commenters didn’t touch on. It’s completely fine to bring a discussion back to life.
- Again, avoid the urge to market your business overtly — that’s not the purpose of business networking.
4. Invite your network to do an “introduction swap”
Here’s how it works: You’ll introduce two of your contacts. In exchange, they’ll introduce you to one of their contacts. To make it happen, simply post about the introduction swap on LinkedIn or send emails with an invitation to participate.
If people in your network are willing to share their contacts, this can be a quick and easy way to make valuable new connections.
Business networking only takes an hour each week
The great thing about each of these tips is that they won’t take up too much of your time.
With that in mind, here’s my challenge to you: Choose one item from this list each week. Within one month, you’ll have an expanded business network that can help you grow your business.