Networking is one of the cornerstones of a successful business and career. People need to know who you are, what you do and more importantly, they should have a good opinion of you and your work. Successful networking can result in word of mouth recommendations, a trustworthy brand, reliable business contacts that can aid the running of your day-to-day business and provide a source of information and support when you need it.
Here are some tips on how to start successfully networking today.
Make a Plan
Create your own ‘networking business plan’, setting out your goals, who you want in your network, the current status of your network and relationships with contacts, where you can go to meet contacts and assessing how effective your current networking methods are.
Social media is fast becoming one of the most useful tools to both businesses and professionals alike. Sites like LinkedIn and to a lesser extent, Facebook and Twitter, are ideal for keeping in touch with your business contacts. It is important to keep media like this as up-to-date as possible to show you are online, active and reachable.
Always attend business, networking and social events where possible. These provide great opportunities for meeting people face-to-face and making a good first impression. Research the people you want to meet and talk to before you attend events and maybe consider even connecting with them online through LinkedIn or Twitter, for example, to break the ice.
Take time out of work to get involved with local groups in your area. These can either be related to your profession or just for fun. Either way, getting involved with your local area is a great way to meet potential customers and other local business people who may be valuable contacts in the future.
It is important to know when and how to follow up the initial meeting with a business contact. Connect with them on the relevant social networking sites. A follow-up email or call could be sufficient to building a relationship.
Treat everyone in business as equals, never judge a book by its cover and see everyone as another potential contact for your network. Don’t forget, the most important person in a business can often be the youngest or most casually dressed person in a room.
CPA Ireland recognises the importance of networking for our members, which is why there are a number of network groups for our practitioners located throughout Ireland. This provides our members with the opportunity to meet other practitioners and members in their areas and to discuss the latest issues facing them in their profession.