I rank this first on my list because it’s available 24/7 and in minutes you can make a connection that can lead to your next client. The fastest way to use social networks is to connect with people you already know. For every connection you make in real life, have you considered connecting with them online? Ways include:
So many options to choose from… you’ll find at least one that is the perfect fit! You also will want to find a group that works within your budget and time limitations. Evaluate your commute time to and from the meetings, down time out of the office and fees involved. While a low yearly fee might sound reasonable, a large time commitment means that in order to “break even” from attending you need to make up your hourly rate of time lost. From my own personal experience, I have found that the vibe of an individual chapter of a larger networking group can vary from group to group! If you have the opportunity, test out a few before making a yearly commitment. Ask current members about their experience…it’s also a good icebreaker!
Don’t underestimate the value of these social connections! Many of my best business connections were introduced to me through a personal friend. You can also find groups with similar interests to you…political, sports, community service, religious, book clubs or purely for fun…it’s all all about making connections! The other advantage is that your social connections already “know, like and trust you”, which is the key to a ideal connection. You may consider including information about these groups in your social networking profile.
Your alumni network from your College, University, Fraternity or Sorority can be a gold mine of connections. Connect to people through social and networking activities, lifelong learning and continuing education, and outreach to students/young alumni. Consider asking your school if you are looking to branch out or expand your team with a new employee or intern. LinkedIn and Facebook are full of special interest alumni groups, so don’t forget to connect, and include these keywords in your profiles. Large corporations also may have a group. For example, P&G has a special website and LinkedIn group that connects people globally and participates in philanthropic activities.
Events can be a great way to quickly make new contacts and test out a new networking group! Social Networks can be used to find out about new events, and even see who is attending. Try to make contact with a new prospect BEFORE the event… it’s a great ice breaker and will make you stand out!
One of the best ways to meet people is to create your own group or event—but be prepared for a lot of additional work! Consider partnering up with strategic connections and leveraging your networks. The benefit is that YOU can define the vibe to best fit your business goals.
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