Advice and hints to build a network People next to you will help you achieve your dream and reach your goals! Any networking experience can lead to a friendship or opportunity that alters the route of your business initiative. Think about how you can network in a way that is true to you and how you can bring out the best in someone else. It takes time but the rewards can be worth, you never know where you will get your next idea or find the awesome co-founder you are seeking. By approaching professional networking with the intention to build meaningful, authentic and lasting relationships, it can help you narrow down who you really want to spend time with and how to give purpose to that encounter. Networking events Create your own event based on your interests. It doesn’t have to be big. Invite a couple of interesting people and provide drinks and snacks. Set goals for the event. Ask yourself, what you want to achieve by the end of the event? With specific networking goals set in place, carve out plans on how to attain them. Then, try your best to do what it takes to accomplish your plans and achieve your goals. Embrace opportunities There are opportunities all around you! Be open to a variety of occasions — every networking event, happy hour, weekend gathering. Go to a conference and mingle. The list goes on! These little connections are often the spark for bigger and more rewarding things on the long run. Think of ways you can put your efforts into action, too. Visit a co-working space, for instance, and get to know other entrepreneurs in the right type of environment. Network online Social media Don’t neglect online networking. Social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn are powerful and easy to use tools to connect with new people in a way that you feel comfortable with and to your own personal choices. These help you in accessing a whole world of connections that you maybe wouldn’t have made in real life. Follow some tips here: Build a social presence Start by deciding who you want to network with. Ask yourself who is in a position to help you advance your business/business idea. Research which social media sites these people use most. And search various sites to see what activity exists that’s relevant to your business. Choose one or two sites to target initially by creating a business and/or personal social media page. You can add other sites as you gain experience. Start building your network by inviting people you already know to connect with your page, such as family, friends, community members, employees, business contacts and clients. Separate your private from your business social media connections and create separate accounts or pages. Post engaging content Think of engaging content to post on your social media sites. Your goal is to foster a community of like-minded people who see you as a thought leader, interact with you and share your content with their networks. Examples of content include how-to videos, blog posts, surveys, contests, industry and market insights, white papers and eBooks. Keep your writing concise and reader-friendly, with short sentences and paragraphs. Avoid technical and marketing jargon. You should not only post on your own pages, but also engage with people on other social pages by commenting on and sharing content. It is crucial to continually add new content. Keep track of what types of content get the most attention, and add more of it. Learn from others with a successful social presence. Focus on quality over quantity Focus on the quality of your social interactions, not the number of followers. If you offer value and engage in meaningful conversations, your network should grow naturally on its own in the log term. Practice good etiquette Be professional and respond diplomatically to criticism. Use online networks to broker or bed down relationships, but not to replace face-to-face! Direct messages Make sure your messages are always short and relevant; digital communication is not meant to completely replace meaningful in-person exchanges, rather just initiate or supplement them. Be concise and relevant in your communication! Maintain your network Once you get started, building your network is actually the easy bit. The real work is in maintaining your network and investing in the relationships beyond the first encounter. This is why it’s good to be clear on who you want to spend time with and how you can add value to them. To maintain relationships, you can find out what interests the person has and make a note to bring it up in your next conversation with them. Genuinely inquire about matters that are of importance to them. If you’re able to give them something that you already have, offer to do so. As you lay the foundation of your relationship brick by brick, you will see your relationship grows stronger. A purposeful approach to maintaining your networks ensures that a first introduction doesn’t end up being a ‘once-off’ but develops into something mutually beneficial that will grow over time. Top Tips • Build up a networking strategy while keeping the end result in mind • Be responsive and thankful in your interactions (it will repay)! • Be authentic, be positive, be yourself! • Be patient and persistent • Always follow-up: make the most of the contacts you make • Be respectful and attentive • Use online networks to broker or bed down relationships, but not to replace face-to-face • Be honest and open, and that will be mirrored • Be concise and relevant • Have in mind: networking is about quality over quantity! Jump into it! To have career in digital sectors is exciting, inspiring and rewarding. You’ll learn a lot along the way — and others can learn from you. By taking advantage of every opportunity that you encounter, you have a great chance of advancing towards your goals.