Successfully running your own business means you’ll have to form lasting relationships and connections with clients and team members. But how many of us actually meet the networking goals that we set at the beginning of the year?
Even if you aren’t always feeling extroverted, it’s still possible to network and make connections with people. And you can create strong business connections in a few ways, without even leaving your desk.
At Alkaloid Networks, we’re a proud supporter of strong business connections and a vibrant community, in Atlanta and beyond. We put together some networking tips, to inspire anyone who needs ideas for creating connections and networking effectively.
Build a Professional Network Online
You can grow your professional network without having to leave the house: Not all connections have to be face-to-face, and you can find other people in your industry and community on social media. Places like LinkedIn and Instagram are a great way to find people who you can collaborate with or work with as a client.
Stay up to date on entrepreneurship, freelancing and micro-businesses by keeping up with them on different industry websites. Follow them on social media, as more resources for your network. We’re big fans of the following sites:
TIP: Sites like Startup Atlanta have directories, and Alkaloid Networks is featured on their site as a resource to the area. You might think about adding your own business to directories like this.
Business Cards and Good First Impressions
Keep your cards handy to leave at your local coffee shop or at a networking event. If you don’t carry them all the time, you can always offer someone your email if the introduction turns into good conversation.
TIP: Need ideas for making business cards stand out? This article from Forbes has some great ideas!
Strength in Numbers
Get involved in groups where you’ll meet new people. These groups can be related to your career, or might just be centered around a common interest. Don’t be afraid to start new hobbies! Approach networking with an open mind—you never know where you might meet your next gym buddy, dance partner, or new clients (I like visiting my LYS monthly to meet new people).
Form New Connections Through a Book Club
If you can’t find a group or meetups you want to join, consider starting your own book club, interest group, or happy hour event. You can put up flyers in your neighborhood, post on social media sites to churn up interest, or start a local event on Meetup.
Network Effectively in Your Neighborhood
One of the best ways to branch out to more people is simple: Start by saying hi to people you see often—the mail carrier, your cashier at the grocery store, or people you see at the coffeeshop. Alkaloid Networks is a part of the Old Fourth Ward Business Associations (O4WBA) and supports the Inman Park Neighborhood Association and is able to assist in collectively impacting community issues.
TIP: It’s also important to set boundaries, while you grow your relationships. Networking isn’t about being best friends with everyone, or starting a conversation with every stranger on the street. But being a small business owner means that you’re an important part of the community, and your networking landscape just might include the neighbors! You never know who might give you a referral.
Volunteering + Valuable Connections
There are plenty of nonprofit organizations that need volunteers, like the local Humane Society or Habitat for Humanity. This is a great way to expand your network, when you want to build it with like-minded souls and make meaningful connections. Even if these volunteer events don’t turn into new business transactions, serving the community has countless benefits on a personal level.
LinkedIn, But Local
Your local startup and entrepreneur organizations will offer opportunities to connect with other business owners and freelancers. Many local groups will also help to facilitate connections with any city and state agencies, along with local professional associations you might be interested in. These business groups also offer opportunities to support your business success: not only will you form professional relationships, but you’ll get the chance to work on your elevator pitch, stay abreast of new technology, and support your career advancement.
TIP: Remember to reach out to people after these events, as well. When you have new contacts to add to your list after an event, follow up with an email: share an article you read or podcast you talked about, and keep it simple by inviting them to stay in touch.
Make Connections Through Coworking
Want to meet more business owners, freelancers, and startups nearby? Join a coworking space! Coworking offers instant community, and a ton of ways to start connecting with people like you. Networking is crucial, but coworking give business owners a variety of ways to expand their network, find potential collaborators, and meet people who want to connect just like you do.
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