Contacts are at the centre of any business. Whether they’re your team, customers, suppliers, investors or influencers, your business contacts can make or break you.
A while ago, we looked at how you can build meaningful business relationships that last. Today, we’re going to take a look at how you can meet people to form relationships with in the first place.
Here are some of the best places you can meet new business contacts, and a few tips to help you get started…
Local industry Meetups
Chances are, there’s a regular, local event for people in your industry. A quick browse on meetup.com will probably bring back some interesting events for you.
If you can’t find anything relevant, why not consider starting your own group? Consider hosting monthly talks from people in your industry or hosting a regular open bar where professionals in your area can have a casual chat over a drink.
You could even sponsor a local meetup that isn’t directly related to your industry, but would be relevant to your customers, potential hires or mentors, giving you a great excuse to go along and get networking.
You’d be surprised the relationships you can form on Twitter. By keeping your ears/eyes open and joining in conversations about topics you’re interested in, you can befriend anyone from potential customers to journalists working in your field.
Kristen Curtiss, social media expert at Constant Contact, has a few tips for building business relationships on Twitter…
“You can reach out to people who may not know your business and start a conversation with them, or retweet something they’ve posted. Being social should be your number one goal when it comes to Twitter.
Pay attention to the content they share on a regular basis. When you learn what people are interested in, you can create and share content that’s relevant to them. This will help move the relationship forward, positioning you as a source of useful information.”
Make sure you add value to conversations you join on Twitter. You wouldn’t butt into a stranger’s conversation to try to sell your product in real life, so don’t do it online either.
Not only are conferences great for learning new skills and seeing what else is going on in your industry, they’re a great way to meet people who share your interests.
Mike Fishbein, founder of Startup College, notes conferences as a great way to meet new professional contacts…
“Attending a conference or event is a great way to meet a large group of professional contacts. Professional events are often publicized through industry newsletters and blogs. Try to find a guest or speaker list to determine if the event is worth attending. This will also allow you to be productive with your time if you do attend.”
Strike up casual conversations with other attendees, or speakers, at the conference. There’s no need to go for a hard sell. Have a chat about mutual interests. The more you have in common, the more likely you’ll be to stay in touch in the future.
Introductions from existing contacts
Don’t be afraid to ask for introductions from people you already know. Most people will be happy to introduce you to their contacts, but make sure you have something valuable to offer.
Liz Ryan of Human Workplace reminds us to only make introductions when they’re beneficial to both parties…
“Business introductions aren’t complicated, but you have to think before you act, because it’s a cardinal networking sin to impose an introduction (or worse, a lunch or coffee!) on someone who isn’t expecting that obligation and doesn’t want it. Ask before you introduce, but once you get an affirmative answer, don’t be wishy-washy — put your friends together for everybody’s benefit!”
How do you meet new business contacts? Let us know in the comments below!