For example, if you sit next to someone at a conference and start a conversation, follow up with a LinkedIn request letting them know it was great to talk to them. If you connected with a speaker at a virtual event, follow up with an email letting them know how much you enjoyed their presentation.
Then, look for ways to continue building the relationship. Did you network with a business owner who mentioned their company was struggling with a particular issue? Offer to get together for a meeting to share your insights and ideas for solutions. Did you meet a job-seeker you think could be a great fit for your company? Offer to review their resume and have them come in to meet your team.
The point is, using networking to connect with other people is great—but if you want your efforts to grow your business, you need to follow up with those connections and continue fostering those relationships.
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Track Your Networking Leads
If you want to maximize your networking efforts, you need to understand what’s working, what’s not working and what’s leading to the most—and the highest quality—leads.
And the way to do that? Tracking your networking efforts.
Anytime you make a connection, you’ll want to collect as much data about the connection as you can, including:
Where you made the connection
What kind of connection it is (potential customer, potential employee, potential partnership, etc.)
When and how often you follow up
Any business outcome that comes from your efforts (e.g., after two follow-ups, did that potential employee schedule an interview—and ultimately accept an offer at your company?)
Tracking all of this data will help you get a better understanding of where to focus your networking efforts—and how to maximize them in the future. For example, you might find that a huge percentage of your new customers in a quarter came from a single trade show—which means that, moving forward, you want to make that trade show a priority.
Moving Forward With Business Networking
Business networking—both on and offline—is an essential part of helping you forge the valuable connections you need to take your business to the next level. And now that you know how to make the most of your efforts, all that’s left to do? Get out there and start networking!