Seven Smart Strategies To Maximise Your Network’s Potential

Building and maintaining a professional network is essential for successful business ownership. Strong connections in areas such as development, innovation, and strategic partnerships can significantly enhance business opportunities. However, traditional methods of networking may not be as effective as they once were. Attending generic networking events, amassing a large LinkedIn network solely for status, and distributing business cards excessively may not yield the desired results. These approaches often prioritise quantity over quality relationships.

In essence, effective networking should prioritise cultivating meaningful connections rather than merely accumulating contacts. If you’re a business owner who boasts a high number of connections but lacks substantial relationships within that network, it’s crucial to shift focus towards leveraging your connections more effectively.

Why LinkedIn Isn’t Enough

LinkedIn serves as an exceptional platform for business networking, offering ample opportunities for business owners and professionals to identify and connect with potential strategic partners or customers. However, merely creating a profile and accepting connection requests does not equate to effective networking. In reality, studies indicate that as many as 70% of LinkedIn users are passive, and this figure may even be conservative. While LinkedIn remains a potent tool with enduring potential as a business networking staple, if your interaction is superficial, its true value may be lost.

The Key to Networking Is Engagement

While having a substantial number of connections can feel empowering, the true worth of your network hinges on how you interact with these individuals. Building genuine relationships is the primary objective of networking because active engagement leads to opportunities. However, it’s important to distinguish between what many business owners perceive as networking—such as sending sales pitches via emails or LinkedIn Messages—and genuine connection. Often, these communications can appear more like marketing campaigns disguised as personal engagement. While marketing is valuable, it should not be mistaken for authentic relationship-building.

How to Effectively Leverage Your Network

You’ve accumulated a fantastic list of connections on LinkedIn and have a drawer full of business cards from the past ten conventions and trade shows. You know numerous business owners who could potentially benefit your company. Now, the key question is: How do you effectively engage them in a meaningful and impactful manner?

Here are seven excellent strategies to engage your existing network, cultivate relationships, and create mutually beneficial opportunities:

  1. CoHost a Webinar: Collaborate with a fellow business owner from your network to host a webinar that benefits both parties. Such events provide opportunities for sharing expertise, reaching new leads, and enhancing each other’s market presence. For example, a technology specialist and an insurance broker could team up for a webinar discussing how testing and insurance contribute to a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy for businesses.
  2. Produce an Industry Podcast: Starting a podcast has become remarkably straightforward, especially with tools like Zoom and other video chat platforms. Invite members of your network as special guests to discuss their businesses or other compelling topics. This approach not only positions both of you as experts but also as thought leaders in your respective fields.
  3. Develop Cross-Promotions and Collaborations: Identify complementary partners within your network and collaborate on cross-campaigns or bundled promotions. These collaborations can serve dual purposes: they act as highly effective marketing strategies and provide opportunities to engage with and support your network.
  4. Launch a Referral Rewards Programme: Everyone appreciates referrals! Encourage your network to advocate for your business with their own connections. Offer compelling rewards or incentives to motivate them to actively promote your services or products.
  5. Offer Skill-Swapping Workshops: Identify connections who could benefit from collaborative employee tutorials or workshops. For example, a marketing agency and an accounting firm could team up for workshops addressing specific challenges faced by accounting firms in marketing, followed by sessions on developing financial strategies for small businesses.
  6. Gather for Community Service: If your business supports a cause you’re passionate about, invite your network connections to join you and your team in volunteering. Collaborating to uplift your community or support charities not only strengthens connections but also adds depth to these relationships beyond business transactions.
  7. Consider Social Media Takeovers: Engage your network by inviting members to showcase a “day in the life” of their business through social media takeovers, guest blog posts, or videos. This interactive approach not only supports your connections but also adds a touch of fun to the experience.

Keep in mind, establishing meaningful connections is crucial for effectively leveraging your network. This principle also underpins a TAB peer advisory board. Distinct from traditional networking groups, a TAB Board comprises business owners and CEOs who collaborate to uplift and empower each other on their paths to success.

Read our 19 Reasons You Need a Business Owner Advisory Board