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Traditional Networking 101

The term “networking” has evolved over the past few years.  Many networks today exist primarily online, and members of online networks might never meet each other in person.  While online networking in the form of Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media is an important element in today’s digital environment, don’t forget about the power of traditional networking.  Here are a few tips to jumpstart your offline network.

Attend Industry Events

The best way to meet relevant professionals in your industry is at industry-specific events.  Look online for the most important events that are held for your type of business.  Make sure that the key members of your company attend these events.  If possible, reserve a booth for your company or ask if one of your team members can act as a speaker or panelist. 

During these types of events, the goal is to interact with as many people as possible.  Every person you meet adds to your network of peers and potential clients.  If you are looking to hire, keep an eye out for potential employees.  Be sure to grab contact information for everyone you speak to.

Give to Others

As the saying goes, you only get what you give.  Networking is a two-way street, and in order to reap the benefits, you must provide support to the fellow members of your network.  Be willing and able to listen to other’s business concerns and to lend a hand to help answer questions or find resources for those who need them.  Attending to the needs of those in your network takes minimal time, but by helping others, you ensure that others are willing to help you.

Follow Up

During the course of tending to business, attending industry events and going about your daily life, you will come into contact with hundreds of people.  Always get a business card for new people you meet, and keep an organized contact log with everyone’s information.  Follow up with important contacts frequently, even if you do not need to speak with them.  Consider organizing a coffee meeting or lunch date to catch up on business ideas and industry trends.  Keeping up a relationship with people in your network ensures that you have an open line of communication when you need them.

Be sure to use traditional networking in addition to online networking as you build your business.  Although nothing beats the convenience of networking online, building strong in-person relationships is an important component to any successful company.

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