Traditional networking is all about building relationships. It is about who you know and who they know, where you live, and the connections you can create and maintain with other business professionals.
While there is nothing wrong with traditional networking methods, the volatile job market and changing generational workforce are demonstrating the need to look outside the box for the greatest return.
The new age of professional networking is less about seeking out connections at events and on LinkedIn, where building connections can fall flat without structure, planning, and purpose. Instead, business professionals and company leaders are reinventing approaches to the value of their connections and professional collaborations.
By trying out new and creative ways to connect with others, you can expand your network beyond your immediate professional circle, meet new people, and potentially gain new opportunities for growth and advancement in your career.
Here are a few ways to help you get started on your unconventional path to growing your career.
1. Incorporate Networking Into Your Business Plan
As an entrepreneur you know the importance of creating a solid business plan. What you may not know is how identifying your objectives and goals for networking should be included for a truly comprehensive outlook that will maximize leads. For example, an element that could help you meet the networking goals outlined in your business plan would be to invest in specialized programs that help support your professional network and overall growth.
Companies like Real Estate Skills are providing unique online programs to help individuals acquire a better professional real estate network, and gain the confidence to find and flip their first wholesale real estate deal. This has provided new and more seasoned real estate professionals with insights into the smartest investments in today’s market.
Without the development of a business plan as an entrepreneur, you won’t get far in growing your company. Likewise, making space for networking methods in your business plan will help you outline your personal goals and objectives, including who you know or admire that you would like to have in your corner.
2. Be Intentional About Your Networking
Rather than attending a random networking event or local Chamber of Commerce meeting, practice intentional networking by connecting with other professionals and consider what you can contribute to their professional growth – not just yours.
According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, personal and professional networks shrunk by 16% between 2019 and 2021. As a result, professionals are finding it more difficult to receive promotions or find a new job, while companies are becoming less creative in building connections and encouraging individual growth.
Intentional networking allows individuals and businesses to establish a trusted, well-aligned network of internal and external relationships that are built on symbiotic growth opportunities and shared knowledge. Expertise and experiences are aligned with a shared vision or purpose, rather than individual intentions, and can be combined with the ideas of generous networking for even greater outcomes.
3. Go On Business Adventures
Free networking events hold limited value, conferences can be pricey and stale, and local business meetings may limit your reach. Instead consider signing up or arranging an entrepreneurial camping trip, boot camp, global conference, or other networking adventure.
When you limit yourself to local, in-person networking events, you are limiting the quality and quantity of opportunities you could be experiencing. Consider alternative networking opportunities, trips, and gatherings that will take you out of your comfort zone and to unexpected places. This will help keep you out of the networking rut and make your interactions more meaningful. There are even community platforms like Mobilize that make for valuable, virtual networking and community building experiences.
Not only will you be able to meet with like-minded professionals and business leaders in your field, but you will also be able to build confidence and a greater sense of cultural sensitivity, access unique and unbeknown job opportunities, and raise your professional profile on a new level.
Unconventional Networking Methods Offer Opportunities for Valuable Connections
A strong professional network can provide you with the capacity to build investor relationships, receive practice advice from seasoned entrepreneurs, find clients and referrals, and gain a valuable support group. But you won’t simply find those connections at your local coffee shop, networking platforms, or at the next national conference. To get the most out of your entrepreneurial networking experience, you need to consider how you can plan, be intentional in your search, and get the most value when it comes to professional growth and experiences.
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