Make Networking a Priority in 2016

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Something you will hear all successful people say is “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” And this rings true especially for entrepreneurs. Good relationships formed by networking are truly a catalyst for success in today’s business word, and such relationships can bring about increased sales from referrals, more strategic thinking and new thought processes, and help with problem solving by meeting the right types of people to guide and grow your business.

If you weren’t serious about taking time to network last year, make 2016 your year to get out there.

Take small steps and try to achieve the below three goals to boost your presence and make new, meaningful connections:

  1. Consider joining a new association or group dedicated to your interests or in your field. Networking doesn’t always have to be specifically job related. If you own a PR agency or accounting firm, but really enjoy giving back to the community, consider joining an Auxiliary board or more formal board in Chicagoland instead of a career-specific one. There are so many opportunities focused on health, wellness, animals, medicine, education, etc., that will not only help you give back, but give you the opportunity to meet lots of great people you never might have got the chance to meet if you stuck to your PR and accounting happy hours. Also consider joining a women’s association or new happy hour networking group – even if you don’t know anyone else who is a part of it. This will force you to be social and make new, meaningful connections, instead of sitting at the same table with the same people every meeting. Free on Feb. 24? Check out BizOver to network and mingle.
  2. Make it a priority to connect others. Instead of just trying to connect yourself, be sure that you put focus on connecting other business owners and entrepreneurs in your network in 2016. If you thinking two people could really benefit from doing business together, be sure to introduce them in person or via email!
  3. Take the in-face networking online. Be sure to bolster your LinkedIn page this year if you didn’t make it a priority in 2015, and always follow up with people who give you their card. Using social media gives you an opportunity to share interesting articles, comment and see what is going on with all of your new professional contacts and friends. If you are really vocal in-person, be sure to show that enthusiasm on your company page or profile. Expanding your digital footprint is critical to bringing in more business and can elevate your thought leadership in the industry. It’s also a great way to find and share events that interest you.

At the end of the day, every new relationship you make is an important one. You never know when you might need to tap that person for a referral, get their advice, or just want to have coffee with them to catch up. Happy networking!

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