Here are some ways to network that may surprise you.
Keep in mind that business networking is about meeting people and forming relationships. It doesn't matter whether the initial meeting started with a click or a handshake, you can grow connections into long-lasting prosperous relationships that generate referrals.
Here are 12 Ways to Business Network for Referrals:
1. Communities: If you don't have a community - make one. The easiest way to do that is to start a Facebook or LinkedIn group based on a common interest. Are you a Realtor in Hagarstown? Start a group called Hagarstown Neighbors. Are you an Orthodontist? Start a group for Moms of (your city) .
2. Contacts: You have a gold mine of contacts in your cell phone. Periodically, send a text to a friend, family member or other contact and say something like: "Hey Joe, Haven't seen you in awhile. How are you doing?" Networking means keeping in touch.
3. Gold Star Referral Clubs: Go to www.GoldStarClubs.com and either join or start a business networking group with other professionals who meet for breakfast or lunch once a week in order to give and receive referrals.
4. Relationships: Think about the existing relationships that you currently have with family, friends and connections. The next time you see them, you could say something like, "It's important to me that you know that I'm happy to answer any questions for you, your family or friends concerning (whatever you do) . Just call."
5. Common Interests: Keep an eye out for events, expos and seminars that may be held in your local area. Do you like to garden or write or collect antiques? Find an event and go to it. It's easy and fun to form relationships with like-minded people.
6. Opportunities: Certain circumstances open doors. If you have an opportunity to meet someone special that you wouldn't ordinarily be able to get in front of, don't waste the moment. Make a great impression and ask them if you could, sometime in the future, buy them lunch or visit with them to... pick their brain, or interview them or as a thank you.
7. Meet and Greet: Is your local chamber having a ribbon cutting for a new member? GO! Is your local car dealer having an open house? GO! Is your child's school having a parent's night? GO! Meet and greets are held for birthdays, charities and businesses. Just go.
8. Business Cards: Always carry them; even while grocery shopping, camping or on a cruise. I'm serious. I can't begin to tell you how many times I've connected with awesome people while on a cruise.
9. Career: Your chosen career or business can offer opportunities to network, even with your competition; like at conventions or educational seminars. A competitor down the street who can't fulfill a client's needs, may refer them to you, and vice versa.
10. Internet: Of course, we can't ignore the internet or social media. Carve out some dedicated time every day to stay in touch with your connections and groups.
11. Colleagues: Network with other professionals in the same line of work as you. You may find that even though you are in the same business, your specialty or expertise is different from your colleague, whicn can open up some great referral opportunities.
12. Connections: Your network is your system of interconnected people. Tie all your connections together with an email marketing campaign that will help to keep you in front of them. Business networking is not always an event. Sometimes, it can be an email that demonstrates appreciation and care.
The opportunity to business network is all around you. Contact me if you need help with your referral marketing strategy.