Picture the scene; you’re a business owner, successful and growing all the time, but acutely aware of how important networking is to continue your business development…and you really lack the time for it. In between meetings, work, travel, life away from the office, where can you actually fit in a little bit of networking? In actuality, you can do it from your desk with just a few minutes a day. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Use Your Social Networks To The Max
This is by far the most important one if you want to make new connections from your desk. Social media is the best way to connect online, and the leader by way of business connections is LinkedIn. You may already have co-workers on there, friends and family…but why stop there? LinkedIn was built for making connections and networking, so take a look at who it would be good to know through a connection. Notice someone in common with your colleague who could be interesting for that endeavor of yours in the next quarter? Ask your friend for an introduction and take it from there. Twitter is also great for connecting; seek out some potential connections in your industry and just get chatting. It could lead to new connections, a coffee meeting and exciting new projects.
Share Great Content
When you begin to network, prospective connections are going to be checking you out, whether it’s your Twitter, website or LinkedIn. Therefore, ensure that your profiles are up to date, and not sitting empty with posts from months ago. Keep up to date with what’s going on in your industry and share the kind of content that will interest your network connections; they can all lead to good conversation starters. Look out for great content too and join in with conversations; they can all lead to networking opportunities.
Put Candy On Your Desk
You might be reading this one in confusion, but it’s an interesting concept. If you work in quite a large company and work-traffic frequently walks by your desk, add a bowl of snacks where they are within eye view and reachable. John Muscarello wrote about the achievement of this on his LinkedIn blog last year with great success; he met new people in his company, made new connections and got involved in some unique conversations. This is a great way to get ahead, but keep the secret of what you’re doing to yourself, otherwise it could get competitive (and costly) in the candy networking stakes around the office.
Schedule Coffee Meetings
Networking at your desk will eventually lead to some fantastic potential connections and business opportunities that will require leaving the desk; schedule a coffee get-together to talk over prospective business prospects as they arise. If something is looking feasible over LinkedIn or Twitter and that potential connection is in the area, check your calendar, suggest a time and date and ensure it’s pencilled in.
Look For Local Networking
This is a fantastic way of making new connections, but one that many people don’t do. Even if you have lived in your city for years, there may be networking opportunities out there you haven’t even heard or thought of. Look for websites promoting local networking or Twitter or Facebook groups, and check out when they meet and what they’ve been up to the in past.
Use Connectivity Apps
If a potential networking opportunity is upon you, use the clever networking apps now available to read up on your prospect before you meet to talk business. Refresh for example scours the main social networks to look for information about your contacts, providing you with vital information about them and what they do, and making your first initial meeting a bit smoother. It saves you time and can be done from wherever you are, whether at your desk or on the way to a meeting. Another app, Here On Biz is ideal for discovering networking opportunities local to you. Using your LinkedIn account for access, it knows where you are and tells you if any of your friends – or potential business opportunities – are nearby. The app knows your industry and if anyone of interest is in the area (via 2nd degree LinkedIn connections), you receive a notification, as does the other party. Sat at your desk and have some spare time over lunch with a good potential? Go for it. If not, pass.