December 30, 2016

The Best Networking Advice from 2016


Each year, we publish countless blog posts here on the Contactually blog full of advice, actionable tips and strategies for improving and implementing networking into your personal and professional life. By the end of the year, it's easy to forget exactly what we wrote about back at the beginning of the year....but we do know there's some great advice buried back there in January!

That's why we put together this handy roundup of all the best advice and tips we shared throughout the year that could be helpful for everyone from the folks looking to build up their network for the first time to seasoned pros who may need to get back in touch with contacts in their network that they haven't spoken to in a while. No matter what your networking experience is, it never hurts to get a little refresher, right? And if you're looking for a little more, head directly to the original article and soak it all in!

Read on for the best networking advice of the year!

Get to Know Your Network in 5 Minutes

Utilize LinkedIn fully to get a better grasp on a potentially overwhelming amount of contacts in your network. It's possible to better get to know exactly who you're in touch with, simply by scrolling through your list of connections. Spend just 5 minutes a day on LinkedIn and you'll very quickly find simple ways to not only get to know your network, but find more ways to keep in touch with them.

Often, you're prompted by the platform to congratulate your connections on new jobs or work anniversaries, giving you a very easy reason to reach out and send them a quick note! Make it a goal to log in to LinkedIn everyday and complete at least one action, whether it's sending a congratulations or liking and sharing an article from a connection. Once the platform gets to know you, they'll start recommending very relevant people to connect with and suddenly you're not only staying in touch with folks you already know, but building new relationships too!

How to Get More Referrals

Most real estate or small business professionals will already know that building a network for referrals is important, but it's also key for helping to build up your business exponentially. In this post, we chatted with 7 influencers on how they'll be getting more referrals and most of their answers had something to do with networking. While we can't pick just one piece of advice out all of them, our influencers' answers ranged from giving gifts to 'A level clients,' to asking clients and partners to create quick testimonial videos that can be shared by both parties.

One common theme that ran through all of the answers, was the idea of honestly and creatively asking your network for referrals in a memorable way. Many of these folks even pointed out the idea of adding value to the relationship before making an ask of them, which can often pay off in the long run.

How to Build Up Your Network

The key to building up your network is twofold. First, staying in contact with the network you already have. And second, organically building new people into your network. You may find that one of these is personally easier for you to tackle than the other, but nonetheless, they're both necessary if you're looking to build a robust network. It's important to remember, that they really feed off of each other. By staying in contact with your current network, you're opening yourself up to more opportunities to be connected to new folks which is almost always a key step in that organic growth!

The 4 Best Segments for Building Your Network

As much as we'd love, for the sake of convenience, to be able to reach out to all of our contacts in one fell swoop, with the same exact message, it wouldn't do much to help build up our relationships within our network. If anything, it could actually harm them. Which makes segmenting our database of contacts both necessary and useful in maintaining and further building our networks up. We suggest 4 specific segments for breaking down your network based on how often you need to keep in touch with them.

    1. The players - The majority of your contact list, peripheral friends and co-workers who don't require a lot of effort to keep in touch with.

    1. Stars - Smaller group in your network, for example, they're the new leads or contacts that you need to be aware of for when they're ready to make a purchase.

    1. The Champions - High value contacts who can provide referrals or hot leads who are ready to buy today.

    1. The Legends - Your most valuable contacts and relationships. You need to keep in regular contact with them because they provide the greatest impact on you and your business.

The Guide to Building Relationships with Execs, Influencers & VIPs

Building up your network means you must do some outreach to influencers or executives in your industry. While this can often feel daunting and intimidating, it's necessary and can be hugely advantageous to your business and expanding your network. It can be as simple as a couple clicks on social media to get on their radar before you start reaching out. More often than not, these folks are more than happy to lend their expertise, offer a mentorship or connect you with other relevant people in their own network. Remember, executives and influencers...are people too!

How to Network Without Going to Networking Events

For those of us who may be shy or prefer to avoid networking events, we put together some easy ways to network without having to leave your desk. Often those mixers or industry events can feel like a waste of time rather than a worthwhile evening of networking and building relationships. Our #1 suggestion is trying your hand at social media networking and engaging with folks online or on forums or groups on LinkedIn or Facebook. This can often be far easier than face-to-face and gives you a chance to really hone who you want to connect with and what you want to say to them.

Your Business Will Fail Without Your Network

Zvi Band, our CEO and co-founder has leveraged networking and his relationships to great success, especially when it comes to building up Contactually. The key takeaway here is that your current and active relationships with people in your sphere is one of the biggest advantages and assets you have as a professional or entrepreneur. You need to be comfortable with telling your network what you're doing or what you're working on and once you do...they'll start doing the work for you! Your friend who may be in need of your services will never know that you could help them, if you don't tell them. You need to market yourself within your own network first and foremost and results will follow.

How to Make Yourself Unforgettable to Your Network

Are you sticky? Is your business sticky? In other words, will folks in your network remember you or your business when the time comes for them to need your services? A huge aspect of networking is making yourself memorable within your sphere of influence, and that's where being 'sticky' comes into play. There's six aspects of making yourself as memorable as possible according to Chip and Dan Heath, the authors of Made to Stick:

    1. Simplicity

    1. Unexpected

    1. Concrete

    1. Credible

    1. Emotional

    1. Stories

Use these 6 tenants to best tell your brand story, whether it be on your website, your social media, or even your business card, and you'll be well on your way to being memorably sticky in your entire network's minds.

Go forth and network

Now's your time to shine! Go ahead and try out some of these out over cocktails on New Years Eve or make it one of your resolutions or strategies for the new year. The most important thing to remember is that no matter what, you should always be networking. Every relationship you build, or social situation you're placed in, offers a chance for you to get some networking in, and as we covered above, it doesn't all have to be overt like a cheesy car salesman. It can be as simple as spending 5 minutes a day on LinkedIn from the comfort of your own home!