When people think of networking, they might imagine big events with complimentary food and drink. While these types of events do happen, the reality is that networking can happen in a number of different ways — both online and offline. In this guide, we’re going to walk through the different ways you can network for your business. 

So what are the best ways to network online and offline?

  • Join an online community
  • Take part in webinars
  • Interact with other businesses
  • Be active on social media
  • Attend networking events
  • Carry business cards

What are the best ways to network online?

If you want to build your network quickly, you might choose to do it online. With the internet at your fingertips, it’s incredibly easy to get online and start interacting with people from all over the world. 

Join an online community

There are countless online communities with all sorts of focuses. Whether it’s people sharing their favourite cooking recipes or knitting patterns, you can easily join and start getting involved. Some business-focused communities may even have resources (like budgets or business plans) to help run your business. 

These online communities can be on a range of platforms, like Facebook, Meetup, or Reddit. Sometimes, these online communities can also have in-person get-togethers and events. If you’re already getting involved in the community, it’s a great idea to attend any potential events if you can. Showing up in person can help the people you’ve been talking with put a face to the name and make you more memorable. 

Take part in webinars

A webinar is an online seminar, which makes it easily accessible to a much wider audience. Whether you’re speaking or watching, webinars are a good way to both learn and grow your network. 

Occasionally, webinars also include question and answer segments — you can use these segments to pose your own questions. Asking additional questions about the webinar can help break the ice and give you a way to develop a professional relationship. 

Take note of the people involved, and try sending them a message or email. Starting regular contact with other attendees can help develop a professional relationship beyond the webinar, which may prove useful while running your business. 

Interact with other businesses

Whether you’re interested in gaining them as a client or simply trying to build connections with surrounding companies, interacting with other businesses is a great way to do it. As a professional relationship develops, you may even be able to refer or receive work from the other business. 

Of course, getting a response isn’t guaranteed. If you don’t get the answer you’re looking for, don’t worry. Just move on to another business and keep going until you get a reply.

Be active on social media

Another way to network online is to use social media. Businesses frequently use social media to interact with their customers, and when done properly, it can be hugely beneficial. For example, a hairdressing business might use TikTok or Instagram to demonstrate some of its unique hairstyles.

If you do decide to use social media for your business, it’s important to remain active. This could be by uploading new content, replying to a customer’s question, or commenting on a video. Social media algorithms look for engagement, so more interaction will improve your accounts online visibility.

What are the best ways to network offline?

Of course, developing your network online can lack a personal touch. Building your network using face-to-face interactions could be better for you and your business.

Attend networking events

Networking events are an excellent way to meet new people and learn more about your industry. There are networking events for every sector, so if you were interested in finding an eCommerce networking event, you could. 

You could also attend events relating to skills you lack — so you can outsource a specific task. For instance, if your business needed a digital designer, you could attend a graphic design event, and interact with the people there. 

Offline events also give you the opportunity to develop your networking skills. Just like any skill, social or otherwise, you need to practice to get better at it. Since events are filled with people trying to expand their own networks, it’s a relatively safe environment for you to improve. Once you feel confident, you can try using your skills in other environments.

Carry business cards

The world is a small place, and you can bump into anyone at any time — including someone that could help grow your business. By carrying business cards with you, you’re able to make the most of spontaneous opportunities when they arise. 

If you don’t have any yet, don’t worry. You can easily make business cards using some online tools, like Vistaprint or MOO. Once you’ve made and handed out some cards, don’t forget to ask for their cards in return. When you receive their card, you’ll be able to follow up with your new contacts at a later date. 

It’s also a good idea to write and practice an ‘elevator pitch’ to go with the business card. That way, you can give your potential new contact a rundown of your business and why they might benefit from it. 

Manage your networking budget

Like all forms of marketing, networking is an investment in yourself. The trick is making the most of each opportunity, without going over budget. Networking events can be expensive, and trying to track if you have the finances available to attend can be stressful. To help you find the right balance, use Countingup to track all your expenses throughout the year. 

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