• Steven Westwood

How To Build Relationships To Grow Your Network Effectively

I've touched on this topic throughout my posts over the last few weeks and after feedback, thought it would be a good idea to talk about this in more detail.

I can't stress enough: Networking isn't collecting numbers - it's about making genuine relationships with people and having a connection.

This post will provide you with advice and guidance to build a high-quality network that increases:

  • Your reputation.

  • Brand awareness.

  • Lead generation.

  • Credibility and trust.

Set Goals

As with any areas of your business, you'll need to set goals to achieve the high-quality network you need. You can use any method to set your goals; however, the one I recommend is using the SMART technique.

SMART stands for:

  • Specific - "I want to become a member of one networking group."

  • Measurable - "I want four referrals."

  • Attainable - Keep it realistic - can you achieve the goal?

  • Relevant - Only focus on areas you would get the most from (I'll help you solve this below).

  • Time-Bound - Keep it time-bound "within one month" to help you stay on track and makes your goals measurable.

By setting all of your goals based on SMART objectives will help you to stick to them. It's also useful for helping you to prioritise your tasks and keeps you productive.

Know Where To Look

There are several groups you can choose to network with:

  • People in your industry

  • Suppliers to your industry

  • Freelancers, agencies, and just about anyone who offers similar services to you

  • Your targeted clients and customer base

  • Organisations that also cater to your target market in different ways

Similar to finding your best clients, you need to go to where your network hangs out. Do you provide a service to accountants? There'll be groups specific to this niche, so seek them out and join them. Make sure that you answer questions, add value, and start getting to know the people within the group.

Developing friendships with your potential networking group is your strongest way to gain quality connections. Communication is key to being effective in developing these relationships.

There are two approaches to help you to target the right people to build your network:

  1. The abundance method - connect with as many people as you can, this requires working the room, passing your business card to everyone (and anyone) you come across. To make this work for you, you'll need to make a memorable impression on everyone you come into contact with. This is quite a difficult feat to achieve. Drawback: Like shooting a machine gun, you'll have plenty of missed opportunities.

  2. The quality relationship method - this is the method where you become more selective with who you choose to network with. This takes more time and focuses on establishing a lasting relationship with a small group of people. Concentrating on focusing your efforts on the fewer number of people will lead to higher-quality relationships. Drawback: this takes time to cultivate the right type of relationships.

Provide Value

Providing value is something that you'll often hear; there are several ways to do this. The benefits of adding value to your network are definitely worth the extra effort. You can increase your engagement, improve trust in your business, and grow brand awareness.

Working on providing value will also help improve communication between you and your network. It makes you memorable, and people will often think of you if you provide an answer to their problem. Remember, people buy from people they trust.

Always Follow-up/Follow Through

Always follow-up after meeting new people. By doing this, you open up the opportunity for dialogue, keep yourself fresh in the mind of others, and increase the chance of regular contact. When you network effectively, you'll develop a collection of contact information. Spend time to personalise your follow-up, use information from your chat to personalise your message, remind them of who you are.

Don't be pushy when contacting possible connections. Keep it simple, polite and personal. If you connect on social media, engage in their posts, share content, have conversations. You can also celebrate their achievements, send birthday well wishes, and get to know them on a personal level. You might be looking to improve your business, but nothing grows your business faster than having friends with mutual appreciation and a common cause.

If you say you will do something, like introduce a new connection to a person in your network, then make sure you do. This is important for establishing yourself as an honest and credible person to know.

What networking tips would you give to someone? Let me know in the comments.

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