Why Grow Your Network?

Networking is important to your success in work. Expanding your network is important no matter what your industry.  A network can help you find the people and knowledge you need to achieve your business and/or career goals. Networking helps you stay current with your industry, and, if you enter your network with an open mind, you will easily pickup new ideas, business techniques and strategies from others within your network.

How to Grow Your Network Online

Increasing your network of online contacts is a great way to stay informed about people in your industry.  LinkedIn.com, is one example of an online professional networking site. LinkedIn.com boasts more than 70 million members in over 200 countries. Linkedin members are professionals who seeking to increase their network of contacts.  Linkedin.com membership is free, and it’s an easy way to begin networking online.

Here is a list of 29 popular business networking sites, in alphabetical order:

1) apsense.com
A free business social network where people get paid to come together to share their business.

2) biznik.com
Biznik is an award-winning business networking community for anyone growing a business.

3) ceoworld.biz
A site where top executives and entrepreneurs can network and collaborate.

4) connectture.com
Connects you with influential people who can help your career, business, and personal life.

5) ecademy.com
A business social network founded in 1998 now with millions of users of the site each year worldwide.

6) entrepreneur connect
Where small-business owners and entrepreneurs can exchange advice and make connections.

7) facebook.com
Facebook is one of the most popular social networking sites.

8) fastpitchnetworking.com

As one of the fastest growing social networks for business professionals, Fast Pitch! has connected millions of businesses across the world.

9) gather.com
Gather is social networking grown up – the site where adults go to keep up with the people, conversations, and moments that matter.

10) konnects.com
Designed to mimic the natural way that business professionals meet and transact business in a faster, cheaper, more efficient way.

11) linkedin.com
Over 70 million registered users maintain a list of contact details of people they know and trust in business. The people in the list are called Connections.

12) littleengine.com
LittleEngine is a community of Small Businesses, for local owners and patrons who make a point to support and buy from local businesses.

13) meet the boss.com
Business networking tool for business executives around the world, across all industries (English language).

14) meetingwave.com
A free business and social networking tool that helps you connect offline with people you want to meet in the places you will be– whether traveling or near home or work.

15) naymz.com
Naymz is a powerful tool for any professional looking to advance their career to the next level. Our innovative professional networking platform allows people to find and discover new connections, opportunities, ideas, and information based on their backgrounds and reputations.

16) netparty.com
For young professionals to network with each other on a business level and social level.

17) networkingforprofessionals.com
A business networking organization that powerfully combines online business networking and real life events.

18) partnerup
A networking community that entrepreneurs and small business owners use to find the expertise and resources they need to start and grow a business.

19) passitto.com
Business professionals and groups who actively exchange referrals, network, and generate business for each other.

20) qapacity is a business-oriented social networking site and a business directory. Users are given tools to promote their business online, to keep their clients and business partners up-to-date with their work, and to reach new clients.

21) raisecapital
A site where entrepreneurs showcase their business ideas and capital needs directly to investors.

22) ryze.com
A free social networking website designed to link business professionals.

23) spoke.com
Provides on-demand business to business contact information for sales people, marketers, and recruiters enabling sales lead generation.

24) talkbiznow
An interactive business networking site for professionals.

25) upperz.com
Upperz is a free social network site for professionals that connects you with your business and professional contacts.

26) viadeo.com
Viadeo is an online business social network for finding clients, suppliers, business partners, key business information, recruiting or being recruited.

27) wecando.biz
Find quality businesses that have been recommended by a network of contacts.

28) younoodle
Discover and support the hottest early-stage companies and university innovation.

29) xing.com
Xing includes over 9 million users with personal profiles, groups, discussion forums, event coordination, and other common social community features.

Networking at Live Events

Live events are often hosted by companies who want to share their knowledge with others, and build or strengthen client and vendor relationships. They are a great way to network with others in your field. Personal interaction builds strong relationships. In addition, attending regular events allows you to practice your networking skills.

3 Reasons to Attend Live Networking Events

There are many reasons to attend a live event. For one, curiosity often gets most people. They want to see what it is all about and how the event, or attendees can help their business.

1. Attending live events gets you out of your comfort zone. Think of attendance at live events as personal growth training.  Practice your relationship and speaking skills while at these events.

2. Meet people with similar goals. If you are new to business, you’ll gain new and practical information and advice that will help your business or career goals. Attend with an open mind and be prepared to listen to interesting people and thought-provoking seminars.

3. Networking helps you build your business or career. You’re likely to meet kindred souls in the form of potential clients.  Live events provide a great opportunity for increasing your professional network. Ask for business cards, collect vendor business materials and be open to meeting people who are more than willing to talk with you about how to take your business to the next level.

Speaking at the Event

Speaking at an event increases your credibility and expert status. Getting the podium can get you new business.  Before you reach the podium, make sure that you:

1. Know the main focus of the event. Share with the group in the session your knowledge and expertise based on what the event is trying to highlight. If it is geared towards a niche then feel free to discuss how you got into your niche, what marketing techniques you use and new ways to expand the niche

2. Know the other presenters. Some of them may be sitting in your audience. If they are more seasoned than you, prepare a few questions for them about how they stay calm and at ease before a presentation.

3. Practice a lot. There is no substitute for this one. The way to avoid those dead silent moments when it seems that all your thoughts fly away is to get up and go over your speech many times. This is also how you prepare to deliver well-timed jokes. The more practice you get in, the more comfortable you will feel going off script when inspiration hits you.

4. Have materials in place. The audience will want handouts. Give the handouts at the end of your presentation. Otherwise, attendees will be reading your handout as you speak. Prepare something eye-catching as well as informative for them to take with them. You can create a packet of material including your business card and other pertinent information about how to reach you. Don’t forget to place a sign-up sheet at the door so you can contact them later.

5. Present your products.  Use your presentation as a platform for gaining new business partners, new customers and more sales. Bring along some free samples, or an information-packed article or handout. One tip though, don’t make your presentation a sales pitch. You’ll do better if you remember that your presentation should be about giving valuable information that helps your audience.

Successful Networking after the Event

What did you learn at your last live event? Did you take any actions with the new knowledge you received?

Here are a few tips to help you take action with your pocket full of business cards and that briefcase full of helpful handouts.

1. Create a plan and capture action-items. Take out that handy notebook and look at the notes you took at the event. Add relevant action items to your “To Do” list or calendar, so you don’t forget the good ideas you had while at the event.

2. Email the people you met at the event. Now, is the time to cement that lasting impression that you believe you made on the people you met at the event. Contact each person individually and tell them what a great time you had meeting them. Help them remember you by including your photo at the end of the email. If you can recall the conversation (ideally, you took notes), impress them by recounting one tidbit from your conversation with them in your email.

3. Get involved in online social networking. Find your new contacts on social networks: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, for example. Invite them to be connections, or friends, so you can keep in close contact.

4. Blog about the experience. Get your readers interested in the event happenings. Share your experiences and any new business advice you received at the event.

5. Did you speak at the event?  If so, turn that seminar presentation into an online ebook, or a downloadable white paper on your website.  You could create an e-course on your topic. Use the handouts as filler for your monthly newsletter, content for your site or new topics for video media.

A network can bring you success in work, new business, clients, or even your next employer.  Or, you may someday require the professional help of an attorney, an accountant, or other professional, and you can draw upon your network to find a trusted professional.

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