In the business world of today, it’s important to build your brand and network like a pro to expand your professional network.
Here’s how to do it.
- Expand your Professional Network means building and keeping relationships with people who can help you move up in your career or build your brand.
- There are many tools for networking, like apps and websites, that can help people connect in useful ways.
- Some of the best ways to network are to be ready, be honest, and follow up.
- This post is for professionals, people looking for jobs, and business owners who want to grow their networks and partnerships to help their brands and careers grow.
If you ask anyone how they got where they are, you’ll find out right away that many successful business people have connections. They probably did not get these ties, though. Instead, they were made through good professional networking.
We’ll talk about ways to build your professional network so that you can build your brand, grow your business, and reach your career goals.
Strategies to expand your professional network
Because of how social media has changed business strategies, you can now Expand your Professional Network by sending someone a LinkedIn invitation or following them on Twitter. But because it’s getting easier to get things done, it’s more important than ever to build your brand and network like a pro.
Here are four ways to make your professional network bigger:
Use your LinkedIn profile to grow your professional network.
Social media platforms, especially LinkedIn, have changed the way professionals network with each other. Michael Brown, a career counselor and the author of Fresh Passion: Get a Brand or Die a Generic, says that many people rely on their LinkedIn network for referrals, introductions, evaluations, and references. All of these things are helpful when looking for a job or hiring new team members.
LinkedIn can be used in three important ways for business:
- Add to your professional contacts. Brown says that you should add all of your business contacts to your LinkedIn network to Expand your Professional Network. Even if you only met these people for a short time, they could be helpful to you in the future.
- Learn about people in your industry. LinkedIn is a great place to find out about someone’s work and school history. Tyler Whitman, a certified real estate agent with Triplemint, said that if you have a meeting with someone coming up, you should read their profile to find things you have in common and topics to talk about. Having talking points for a job interview, sales call, or alumni networking event shows that you’ve taken the time to learn about the person and increases your chances of making a good first impression.
- Recruit team members. A LinkedIn page could help your business find and hire great people. This could help you improve your hiring process and find people who share your goals and values.
- Promote your business. LinkedIn’s marketing tools make it a great way to promote your business and connect with more customers.
Ask for introductions to meet new professional contacts.
Brown said that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask a professional contact to put you in touch with someone they know. Most people are happy to help you make connections or even act as mentors to help you to Expand your Professional Network.
You can also ask a “wingman” in networking for help. Whitman said that it can be awkward to brag about yourself to a stranger, but you can do the same for a friend.
Keep in touch to nurture professional relationships.
Networking is not just meeting someone once and then only talking to them when you need something. If you want to Expand your Professional Network, you should try to make a friendship that works both ways.
Gavrielides said, “If there is rapport after a meeting, I make sure to stay in touch,” “Keeping in touch with people takes work, and it’s important to reconnect with them often… I think that talking should be easy, but we’re all too busy to do it naturally.
Ostlund noticed that social media networks are a great way to start conversations, but that real professional relationships need to meet in person to get deeper. Without the personal connection that comes with face-to-face conversation, it’s hard to build trust.
Never stop looking for opportunities (but do it right).
Focus on making progress and thinking about the people you talk to every day, said Brown. If you think you might need to contact them again, get their business card or look them up on LinkedIn.
Whitman said that you shouldn’t Expand your Professional Network just to help yourself. First, build a foundation, and then tell the person about yourself. Once you’ve built a relationship, it’s fine to ask for something. However, it’s rude to ask for favors right away.
Gavrielides said, “Networking should be genuine and an integral part of our professional and business lives,” “Because we are social beings by nature, we must make sure to socialize instead of doing forced business. I’ve made customers, suppliers, partners, colleagues, and investors along the way, and many of them are also close friends.
Professional networking tools
There needs to be a complete plan for networking, and software can help with that. You’ve already used LinkedIn, but you might want to add a few more professional networking tools to your collection.
- Discord: This small company chat app was first made to help gamers all over the world talk to each other. It came out in 2015. The software is used by a wide range of businesses, influencers, and brands, going beyond what it was designed to do. Discord gives its users a free service that they can use for instant messaging, voice chats, and video chats. The app is a great way to Expand your Professional Network.
- Bumble Bizz: The Bumble dating app has a branch called Bumble Biz. It was started in 2017 to make it easier for professionals to meet each other. Bumble Bizz helps local businesses connect by using the same location-based information as the dating app. It is a great tool for making business connections with people at your own pace.
- WhatsApp: What started as an alternative to SMS in 2009 is now a free, end-to-end encrypted messaging, calling, and video chat app that more than 2 billion people in more than 180 countries use. Because WhatsApp is easy to use, it is an essential tool for networking and talking to people around the world. Other companies use WhatsApp to help with customer service, and brands like Adidas and Absolut Vodka use it to market to their customers.
- Twitch: Twitch was started in 2011 and focuses on the live streaming of video games, esports competitions, and several ways to broadcast. The Amazon subsidiary has grown a lot and is praised for its ability to bring people together. Its streaming reach has made Twitch a good platform for businesses, and it gives small businesses, which make up 74% of Twitch users, a unique tool.
- TikTok: The popular social media app TikTok is a place where people can watch short videos for fun and learning. Like Twitch, TikTok’s business features make it easy for people to join the community. For example, you can respond to comments and questions with videos. Also, the software lets people make “duets,” which are films that build on each other. Businesses are starting to use the app, and this is just the beginning of how it can be used to make money.
- Meetup: People can, well, meet up on the Meetup website. As the name suggests, the website lets people set up professional or social groups, such as events for networking. As a response to the pandemic, Meetup added the ability to stream. It could be a useful tool to help you grow your business.