Everyone should have a network of business associates that they can talk to, or call on when they need help. If you’ve ever been caught in a situation where you didn’t have anyone you could ask for help, you will know how true this is.
It’s like moving to a new city and needing to find babysitters or new doctors, dentists, and even grocery stores. Only for your business you might need to find website designers, virtual assistants and social media managers. And if you don’t have anyone you know and trust to make recommendations, it’s hard to know if you’re choosing the right person for the job.
That being said, it’s important to start putting your network into place as soon as you start your business. The worst thing you can do is try to connect with someone only because you need or want something. People can smell those kind of one-way connections a mile away, and will most often be hesitant to help when you come across as desperate for help.
It’s much better to focus on building connections and relationships when you don’t need anything from anyone, and are in a position to give help rather than ask for it.
Online networking groups such as my group, Your Message Amplified, are a great place to start. We have built an amazing community of entrepreneurs here who are always willing to help other members by sharing knowledge and expertise.
When you are building a network, it’s so important to give before you receive. You can insert the broken record here, but people have to get to know, like, and trust you before they are willing to do business with you. A group of like-minded people is a great place to start because you have some common ground with the other members. When you are open and willing to help and freely share what you know, you are seen as more authentic and genuine.
There are also ways, when it comes to social media, that you can reach out and build your network without having to really put yourself out there. This is really good for people who are shy or are just developing their own self-confidence and it’s how I built my network, along with a lot of help from a few strong, outgoing friends. Some things you can do when you’re timid about networking with others are:
- follow the people you want to connect with on all social media platforms you can
- retweet their posts
- share content on Facebook and Google+
- comment on blog posts
- pin images on Pinterest
All of these things will get you noticed, and will open doors for you as long as they are done genuinely and with the intent to create a relationship. The one thing you do not want to do is pitch your products and services at the start. There’s nothing harder to shake online than having a reputation as a spammer, once you’ve got it.
When you are building a network you should also make time every day to devote to connecting with people. Touching base with existing connections and reaching out to new ones should form a part of your daily social media routine.
Keeping existing contacts in interest lists on Twitter and Facebook, and in focused circles on Google+ makes it a lot easier to see what people are posting, and what you can help them with.
New connections are fairly easy to make if you pay attention to things like the comments left on your own fan pages and the replies to your tweets. Check and see who is liking and retweeting you, and if you are not already following them, do so.
One member of a past group I was part of has made a great video in how to do social networking in as little as 30 minutes a day. You can see that on her blog at Showcasing Women. It’s a great strategy for making sure you get some networking time in each day when you might not have a lot of time to spare.
The key here is to make sure your efforts are consistent. It’s much more beneficial and productive to do 30 minutes each day than to spend one day a week doing nothing else. Continued changes to Facebook’s newsfeed also need to be taken into account as well, but that’s a subject for another post.
Finally, don’t be afraid to take your networking efforts offline. If you can find a meetup or other gathering in your area, take time out to attend. If you can’t find one and want to meet others, you can always host one yourself. Your event can be as fancy as a seminar or lecture, or as informal as a meetup at a local cafe. The important thing is to get out there and meet the like-minded people in your neighborhood.
Social networks make it easy to create online exposure for offline events, and will help you reach out to people you may or may not already know in your area.
When it comes to being successful in business, your network plays a huge role. Use all the social media tools at your disposal to help you create authentic relationships that both support you and allow you to support others in return. If your experiences are anything like mine have been, I can guarantee you will meet some amazing people and build amazing relationships that will take your life and your business in directions you never imagined possible.
Meet and build relationships with other purpose-guided entrepreneurs online at Your Message Amplified! Join today… it’s free!