Having a solid network of support can help you get through any situation that life may bring. Whether you are starting your own company, or are looking to dive into a new career path, growing your network of support is critical to helping you make the best business decisions, while also giving you valuable insight from people who have already walked in your path.
You can grow your network of support in many ways. Though it may seem challenging, we have compiled some of the best tips from business leaders on how you can connect with other business professionals, and how you can ultimately grow your network of support.
Spend Time Volunteering
Vincent R. Chan, Chief Financial Officer, Christina
An amazing way to grow your network of support while also making a difference is to spend time volunteering. Search for non-profits who you can donate your skills to, or find a volunteering event on the weekend that you can attend. Some cities even have special groups made up of business professionals who spend time volunteering, that you can join. Volunteering will help you meet like-minded people who enjoy giving back, and is a great way to meet friends and other business professionals that you can add to your network of support.
Attend Local Events In Your Community
Alexandra Fennell, Co-Founder, Attn:Grace
One of the most effective and enjoyable ways to network is to organically meet people at local events at your workplace, or in your community. Networking is all about forming a relationship with someone who shares something in common with you, such as a career path or a special interest. By getting involved and attending local events in your community, you will be able to meet many people in a relaxed, social gathering, where you can talk and truly get to know someone. Make sure that you bring a business card to exchange, or take down someone’s email address or phone number if you form a connection. To find events like this, start by searching for workshops, events, conferences, or trade shows online.
Find People With Similar Interests
Rym Selmi, Founder, MiiRO
In order to find connections that will last, you need to focus on finding people with similar interests. Whether this is in regards to business, or supporting a certain cause, having something in common with someone will give your relationship a foundation to grow on. You can find people with similar interests by trying new extracurricular activities, joining local business groups, and by sparking up a conversation with new people you meet.
Connect With College Alumni
Rio Wolff, Chief Operations Officer, Big Heart Toys
A great way to grow your network of support is by connecting with college alumni. You can do this by getting involved with your alma mater’s alumni association, and by attending some events where you can network with other alumni, school staff, as well as even current students in your field. You can even take on a leadership role in the association, and then you can meet other leaders and commit to staying in touch with key people. LinkedIn is also a great resource to use for connecting with alumni, and finding old classmates that you can message, and add to your network.
Organize Your Own Meetup
Haim Medine, Creative Director, Mark Henry
Whether it’s a company-wide meetup, or a meetup you create for a certain group of people, organizing your own meetup is a great way to grow your network of support, while also sharpening your leadership skills. Plan a meeting at a local destination in town, such as at a coffee shop, or a local eatery, and post your meetup online using Facebook Events or meetup.com. This way, business professionals from your area will be able to find your event, RSVP, and attend. This is a great opportunity to meet people from other organizations, who you may not have otherwise met.
Find A Mentor
Melissa Rhodes, CEO, Psychics1on1
Having a mentor has many benefits, as mentors are great people to turn to whenever you need life or business advice, or if you just need some encouragement. In order to find the best mentor for you, make sure that you are able to define your goals, and that you look for someone who has new perspectives they can offer to you. There are many mentoring services that can connect you with a mentor in your same industry. You can also reach out to your manager at your job, and see if they know of someone who they can connect you with. The right mentor can change your career, and will act as an amazing support system for you.
Join A Church Or Faith-Based Community
Omid Semino, CEO and Founder, Diamond Mansion
One of the best places to meet people and to grow your network of support is by joining a local church or faith-based community in the area where you live. When you join a new group like this, you are able to meet people from all ages, and all walks of life, and can start to build new, solid connections. Look for a group that has people in your same age bracket, so that you will be more likely to share similarities with your peers. Many faith-based communities also offer support groups specifically geared for women or men, which is perfect for really diving in and getting to know a core group of people, who you can use as a network of support. Make sure to keep an open mind, and to really be bold and share your story, so that you can connect with people, and hear the advice that they have for you regarding any aspect of your life.
Step Outside Of Your Comfort Zone
Max Schwartzapfel, CMO, Fighting For You
For people who are introverted or are on the quieter side, networking can be challenging. However, growing your network of support has so many benefits, and all it takes is a little practice. First, if you find a networking event that you’d like to attend, try to come up with some conversation starters or ice-breakers to help you start that first conversation with someone. You can also bring your business cards to hand out, if you would prefer talking by email or phone later in the comfort of your own home or office. If talking about yourself is not your strong suit, never fear, because it is also important to be an active listener. After you step outside of your comfort zone and attend some events, you will feel more comfortable networking and making those connections.
Reach Out To Old Friends Or Former Co-Workers
Brett Estep, COO, Insured Nomads
While it may seem intimidating at first, reaching out to old friends or former co-workers is a great way to reestablish relationships, and to build your network of support. Depending on how you know the person, send them a quick email message, or even call them up on the phone, to let them know you were thinking of them and were hoping to reconnect. Most people will be happy to hear from you, and will be more than willing to speak with you. While some of your prior friends and co-workers may be in a place to offer you business guidance or support, they most certainly will be able to offer you moral support, which is also very important. Remember that when growing your network, you should also be prepared to offer your own support to friends and colleagues, as well. This will be able to help you maintain stronger connections that will last for a long time to come.
Join Online Networking Groups
Phillip Akhzar, CEO, Arka
With the power of social media, networking online is a great option to consider if you are looking to grow your network of support. You can find possible connections on professional networking sites, as well as by making your own website so that others can learn more about your area of expertise and reach out if they want to connect. If you are active on social media, there are also countless career and business groups that you can join. Remember to keep your profile information up to date, so that your page looks current and relevant.
Start Growing Your Network of Support Sooner Than You Think
Joel Gascoigne, CEO and Co-Founder Buffer
And as a founder / CEO, I personally wish I had started to work on my personal support network much sooner. The first time around that I worked with an Executive Assistant, I had the thought that they could help me by taking on a lot of tasks I had been doing myself. And this is true in many ways. The second time around, I realized that the ultimate way an EA can help me to scale is to be a key partner in creating a support network around myself. Rather than having my EA take on my tax filings, the best thing they can do is help me to find three people I can meet to decide on a great financial advisor to work with long-term. And this approach can be taken in many areas, and can be done yourself, without an EA. I now believe that the best way to reach your potential in life, is to form a support network for yourself and cultivate it over time. If you have a growing organization, don’t wait too long. As a founder, you generally get everything off the ground yourself and play every role. This can gear you up to have a mindset of solving everything yourself. But, if your company is starting to grow, if you’re starting to hire people, I’d recommend building your support network now. It will help you scale more smoothly, will make the journey feel calmer, and will equip you better for issues that will inevitably arise.
Grow Your Support Group By Networking
Harry Ploemacher, CEO, Talanx Asset Management
To succeed in business today, you really need a network of people who you can always reach out to for advice, inspiration, do business and so on. My ability to network has really been instrumental in my career. As a CEO, I’m also dependent on having a network with key people within my company, at different levels and production areas. It helps me get a better understanding of what is going on; the things that you cannot see from the top. Where are we good? Where should we develop? How is the atmosphere in the company, and what can I do to improve it? Without that kind of network, it will be very difficult to successfully lead a company. Networking is like leadership. You can’t be a leader for one hour and then go home and stop being a leader. And the same goes for networking, it has to be a part of your mentality all the time. I never start or stop networking; it is a part of who I am.
By following these proven tips, you will be sure to grow your network of support. Remember to keep all of your online profiles up to date, and to have your business cards ready to give out. If you meet someone that you’d like to stay in touch with. Once you take the time to interact with other professionals in your field, you will be sure to gain valuable opportunities and will be able to learn new things in your industry. So whether you’re grabbing coffee with a colleague or attending a conference in a new city, you will enjoy stepping outside of your comfort zone, and growing your network of support.