Building a network as a small business can seem an impossible endeavor. It can feel like you’ve got little to interest people, it can be hard to even capture attention, and once you do make a connection, it’s easy to let it slip through the cracks! You can accept many invitations on networking sites only for them to lead nowhere, and who knows if you’ll ever find the ‘right’ people to take your company to the next level? But that’s what we’re here to focus on. The business world moves fast, and building a proper network of reliable contacts takes time – here’s how to maintain those connections.
Recommend Them to Others
This is one of the best ways to prove you’re in a connection for the long haul. If you’ve worked with someone, or you’re trying to impress a contact that could really matter to your business, put their name out there. If you hear someone in your area needs building supplies for a project, be the first to recommend a vendor. If you hear there’s a graphic design project up for grabs, get in touch with the organizer. You can even ask for your name to be mentioned back to the person in question during the interview process for maximum effect.
Support Them on Social Media
The world of social media is a cutthroat one that’s always moving. As such, you should reach out via your online platforms every once in a while to find out how someone is doing. Alternatively, you can regularly comment on their online movements; if they’ve just succeeded in getting a proposal through, or they’ve hit their targets for the year, congratulate them. A little bit of moral support in this manner goes a long way, and it’s not hard to check in with a Facebook or Twitter feed.
Casually Stay in Touch
If you want to make things a bit more personal, and prove you want this network contact for more than what they can do for you, be casual with them. Send an email every few months to see how they’re doing, and ask them if they’d like to have an in-person catch up. A cup of coffee in a nearby cafe isn’t hard to say yes to! They’ll soon come to think of you as a real professional friend who can be relied upon, and all because you took a decency approach.
Make a Priority List
Finally, it’s a good idea to focus on who you want to be in your network, and who would really matter to maintain a connection to. And this list can change over time, just as much as your business can. You can have hundreds of professional contacts on your profile – you won’t have time to go through them all with offers for coffee!
Building a network is never a one time thing. Check in occasionally, reach out every once in a while, and make sure you’re talking to the best people.