There are many great ways that networking can expand your business through online contacts, local associations and groups, chamber of commerce and other business affiliations.

Online Networking

The typical online social media sites are always a good source for networking. Some of the more familiar ones include Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Snapchat and many others. A few guidelines can help you utilize these methods of networking:

  • Treat online connections with the same professional manner you would in-person encounters.
  • Work to establish a genuine connection with those within your social network; be careful to steer clear of controversial topics, such as politics and religion.
  • Offer helpful tips relative to your industry and present opportunities for those in your network to engage with you.
  • When you meet people face-to-face, make sure you also connect with them online via one of your social media outlets.
  • Protect your reputation by living up to your word and following through on all commitments with excellent customer service.

Monster’s Online Networking Advice

Event Planners can take a page out of Monster’s social networking online advice for job seekers. While those holding events aren’t necessarily seeking employment, they are seeking clients. Joining an online social network can boost business and present opportunities to make valuable professional connections.

The art of social networking is one of subtlety. Monsters advises:

  • Familiarize and understand site culture and rules before you dive in.
  • “A casual email introduction may suffice at one site but could peg you as gauche — or worse — at another.”
  • “Hone Your Profile”. Monster suggests job seekers keep it professional. A company should follow this rule and make posts interesting, engaging and friendly. Tailor your company profile to appeal to your market.
  • “Help yourself by helping others.” Monster reminds that “Networking is reciprocal, so do unto others as you’d want done to you. If you’re able to help people, they’ll be more likely to remember you and return the favor.”

Chamber of Commerce

Most towns have a Chamber of Commerce and anyone with a business should be a member. The Chamber of Commerce organization is a highly-evolved method for businesses to interact and develop long-lasting relationships with other business leaders in your local community as well as other chambers.

Rob Kelly, author of “An Enlightened Entrepreneur: 57 Meditations on Kicking @$$ In Business & Life” states the two purposes of a Chamber of Commerce are:

  • “…to represent the interests of businesses in a particular community or region.”
  • “…to help businesses grow and connect with others” by “providing networking opportunities.”

The Chamber sponsors all kinds of networking events for members and the community, such as breakfast meetings, forums and the ever-popular After Five get-togethers.

Some events and programs address the needs of specific groups, such as women in business, leadership development and business advocacy. Event planners should take advantage of this affiliation to set deep roots within their communities and beyond.

Professional Organizations and Conferences

An excellent way to advance your networking efforts is to join one or more professional organizations and become an active member to establish solid professional connections. Since many organizations have an annual conference, you can use this opportunity to connect with a wider group of professionals through networking.

Be selective in which group(s) you join. It’s far better to join one organization and become active than to join five and not have time to participate.

Create Networking Opportunities for Others

Host an event that offers greater networking opportunities to other businesses and/or individuals. While your advertised purpose is to host a networking venue, you can plan the event so it showcases your specialties.

This type of hosting event gives you a subtle advertising and exposure opportunity by letting your expertise speak for itself. While attendees will certainly benefit from the opportunity to network, they will also notice how well the event was executed.

This type of networking event can garner you greater exposure, build your company’s reputation within your community and bring more clients to your company.

Take Advantage of Networking

Various networking opportunities, both in-person and online, offer you some of the greatest ways to expand your business through participation in professional and social venues.