As an entrepreneur, developing a professional network is one of the most important things you can do.
Back in the day when I was working as a WordPress freelancer or ran my agency, networking was a big source for getting new clients.
Nowadays, developing a professional network became even more important - especially with projects like Scalefest.
While networking sometimes feels like a waste of time, knowing the right people inevitably will pay off over time.
Your network can help you meet potential customers, collaborators, and advisors who can help you take your business to the next level.
But how do you go about developing a professional network? Let me break down what works for me so that you can try the same.
Use your email list for developing a professional network
When subscribers respond to my newsletter, I always get back to them. Sometimes that takes me a few days but I value the conversations and don't take any subscriber for granted.
Building an email list gives me the opportunity to network with professionals in my field at scale. Many people see an email list as an income source - and they certainly are if you can sell via email.
You can't ignore the fact, though, that email was invented to have conversations. Don't treat your email newsletters as a monologue.
Instead, you can demonstrate thought leadership in your newsletters by sharing strategies or giving your perspective on what is happening in your industry and then incentivize responses to network with your subscribers.
Understanding what your subscribers want is critical in building your network
The first three emails of my Welcome sequence that new subscribers go through contain the following survey:
If you've clicked on one of those links, you're taken to a dedicated landing page that contains my best free content for the related topic.
You'll also never going to see that survey again because I use segmentation to avoid annoying subscribers with a survey they already completed.
By understanding what goals my subscribers are striving for, I can personalize my newsletters and automated sequences to a high degree.
For example, I can personalize my newsletter in the following ways:
- When pitching an offer, I can frame it around the specific goal each subscriber has.
- I can exclude them from emails that aren't relevant to them (what would be the point of sending irrelevant content and annoying them?)
- In my regular newsletter, I can tell stories that related to the unique goals of each subscriber, thus better nurturing them
If you want to learn how you can do the same, I'd love to help you. Check out my Email Superpower program.
Attend industry events and trade shows related to your field
Attending industry events and trade shows related to your field is a great way to get connected with people in the same industry.
Not only is it an opportunity to network, but it also provides valuable insight into the latest trends and developments in the marketplace. That's one of the reasons I'm so glad to be involved in Scalefest and have hosted List Building School to unite email marketers.
It can also be a great way to discover new ideas for business growth and even find potential customers.
Not only will you gain knowledge about your field, but you may also find inspiring ways to grow your professional network.
This is especially true of smaller, more intimate events which are often able to draw participants from diverse backgrounds who are willing to share their experiences.
With enough motivation and enthusiasm, attending industry events and trade shows can be an invaluable experience that helps you become a well-rounded professional in your field.
Get involved with professional organizations and associations in your industry
Joining a professional organization or association in your industry is one of the best ways to stay up to date on current trends, find job opportunities, and connect with potential employers.
By joining one of these organizations, you can take advantage of educational workshops and webinars, increase your professional network, learn about upcoming job openings, and gain access to exclusive member-only events.
Additionally, volunteer roles within the association can be a great way to get noticed by employers and enhance your skill set.
Making time for these organizations gives you a chance to grow professionally, build relationships with influential people in your field, and work toward your career goals.
Connect with people on LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media platforms
This shouldn't come as a surprise.
In today's increasingly interconnected digital world, making connections through social media and groups of professionals (online and offline) is essential for any business or individual looking to succeed.
Developing a professional network without the strategic use of social media and online groups is incredibly hard.
Platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Facebook can provide a wealth of valuable contacts that could help you reach the next level in your career or service.
Recommended reading: How you can spend less time on Twitter and still get more followers
Don't ignore those platforms just because you get direct messages with irrelevant sales pitches on them.
Taking the time to create meaningful connections with like-minded individuals on these platforms can open the door to more opportunities and relationships than ever before.
Especially for LinkedIn, you can search through company names, industries, and positions - or through 2nd or 3rd-level connections and expand your professional network very effectively.
To stand out online - stand up.
Don't worry about people not liking you. In fact you should celebrate it.
The truth is that one third won't like you - one third won't care - but one third will love you. That's your tribe.
The rule of thirds is true whether you show a fake face to the world - or a true one.
Scale showing up authentically and you'll attract clients who love the real you for the reasons which matter most to you.Bob Gentle - amplifyme.agency
Making use of the many features each platform offers can give a unique insight into getting connected with people in a way that suits your needs - remember that developing a professional network requires strategic connections and not just accepting everybody's friend requests.
So if you're serious about boosting your career goals, take some time to connect with people on these amazing platforms today!
My personal favorite platform is Twitter - I just love how easy it is to strike up conversations. You can find your ideal clients on Twitter very easily, no matter what industry you're in.
To be as efficient as possible, I'm using the Engagement Builder in Hypefury:
Just this feature alone is worth the price for the software - not to mention the AI suggestions for tweets, templates to leverage, and the integration with LinkedIn.
Start your free trial today if you want to grow your audience and sales on Twitter.
Make an effort to keep in touch with former colleagues, clients, and classmates
It's important to stay connected with all of the people you've networked with throughout your professional and personal relationships.
While this is technically not developing a professional network in the sense of adding new people to it, keeping conversations going with people who already are in your network is critical.
Following up with former colleagues, clients, and classmates allows you to keep up-to-date on their news and milestones while maintaining a valuable connection that can benefit your own career growth or success.
That's where platforms like LinkedIn come into play and make your life super easy 😉
While I'm not the best at staying in touch with my school classmates, I am VERY careful to not close any doors with former clients or colleagues - you never know what opportunities arise.
Maintaining these connections can also be important for professional development if, for instance, you need references for future job opportunities.
More people than ever are developing a professional network to advance in their careers and not just as entrepreneurs.
Staying in touch, therefore, reinforces existing relationships, keeps conversations flowing, and helps create an active network of supportive people in your life.
Attend networking events or join networking groups specifically designed for professionals
Networking can be both a fun and intimidating experience.
Attending networking events designed specifically for professionals is an optimal way to expand your contacts.
Developing a professional network is easy if you can get into exclusive groups like BIP100 or the Society Of Independent Creators from Daren.
The network I’ve built over the last year is one of the reasons my business has grown so fast compared to past attempts. Partnering with industry leaders, learning from friends who had already found the success I was looking to achieve, and - as Derek Sivers says - “calling the destination and asking for directions” has made all the difference.
Your network becomes your support system. They know the path ahead of you that you can’t see yet, and they provide a map to help you get from where you are to where you want to go.Daren Smith - Craftsman Creative
These events bring people of the same industry together and are valuable resources because they provide access to knowledge, support, advice, and potential collaboration opportunities that you may have not been previously aware of.
Networking can also open up career opportunities or inform you of internship openings, job fairs, or continuing education courses centered around topics relevant to your profession.
It is also a great opportunity to gain insight into different paths in the same industry.
Make sure you're prepared by researching the event details so that you're able to make the most out of it - dress professionally, practice conversations beforehand with friends or colleagues, and create your own professional-looking business cards (yes, they are still relevant for in-person events) so that others can easily recall who you are.
Be a resource for others - offer advice and help when you can
Being a resource for others is extremely rewarding. I love connecting people with each other when I can because that makes me feel better - you could call me selfish for wanting to help others.
Recently, I had a call with my friend Brian Keith from Red Beard Radio and he introduced me to five exciting people on that call. I almost felt like I was taking advantage of him - but he said a statement that I'll never forget:
You're giving me a chance to be useful, which is one of the core needs for any man.Brian Keith
By accepting the introductions, I actually helped Brian feel better about himself - even though I was the one who seemingly got all the benefits of the conversation.
The more people you know, the easier it will be for you to introduce people across your network.
You can also set yourself apart by leveraging your talents and expertise to offer advice and help whenever possible.
This could come in the form of mentoring a younger individual, volunteering to provide insight or share knowledge in your field of work, or simply being there as an ear to listen.
By taking it upon yourself to be a resource, you will feel better about yourself and you'll also potentially open up doors that were previously closed.
With the right mindset, generosity, and enthusiasm all wrapped into one, being a resource for others is an invaluable way to make an impact on those around you.
Attending industry events, getting involved with professional organizations and associations, connecting with people on social media platforms, keeping in touch with former colleagues and classmates, and attending networking events are all great ways to build your professional network.
By being a resource for others - offering advice and help when you can - you will further strengthen your network and position yourself as an expert in your field.
Developing a professional network takes time and non of these solutions is a quick-fix if you haven't seriously grown a network yet. But they'll get you started on the right track!