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The Alternative Board Blog

A Quick Guide to Strategic Networking

Jun. 19, 2024 | Posted by Lee Polevoi
Audio Narration of A Quick Guide to Strategic Networking
3:41

 

Expanding one’s professional network is critically important for both job-seekers and those, like CEOs and business owners, wishing to grow their companies. But there’s networking and then there’s strategic networking—where you can learn about new business models, innovations in technology and marketing strategies that “you can then integrate into your own business,” as we have noted before.

 

Other benefits accruing from strategic networking include:
  • Potential growth and collaboration opportunities
  • Development of new sales leads
  • Fresh perspectives on one’s own industry

Through strategic engagement with other business leaders, “CEOs can stay abreast of emerging developments, anticipate market shifts, and gain a competitive edge in their industry,” notes LinkedIn.

 

Here are tips on how to approach networking strategically:

Always have an objective.

Are you seeking new customers? Wanting to learn more about industry trends and opportunities? Or simply expand the range of contacts you can call on in the future? Whatever the goal, be sure to tailor your networking efforts so they align with your personal and professional objectives.

 

Bone up on your soft skills.

Networking sometimes fails due to a lack of perceived engagement from participants. In fact, “you can only maintain a good network if you are approachable and relate well with others,” notes Ivy Exec. At your next networking event, ask those you meet about their own business projects and concerns, and provide “constructive feedback and be open to criticism instead of avoiding people who disagree with you.”

Business leaders who excel at empathy and active listening are often among the most successful at networking.

 

Try your hand at public speaking.

As a CEO or business owner, you’re an expert in your field, and many people would likely benefit from hearing you at an industry-related or trade show event. Look into volunteering to address an audience of peers. Not only will this help you connect with others, but it can also boost awareness of your brand and lead to further speaking engagements down the road. With each public appearance, your speaking skills will improve and you’ll have greater impact on your audiences.

 

Reach out to social media influencers.

With social media now so inextricably a part of business operations and marketing, it’s a good idea to gain a sense of prominent influencers in your field. (You can easily identify these individuals through LinkedIn and other industry-specific social media platforms.)

When you know who these people are, start to “follow their posts, engage with their content, and share your own insights,” advises AdvisoryCloud. After all, networking isn’t “just about meeting as many people as possible, but also about building meaningful relationships with the right people.

 

Always follow up.

Strategic networking won’t achieve much if you fail to follow up on new contacts you make at industry events or through social media and other channels.

After meeting people whom you feel are valuable to your network, call or text them and suggest getting together on an informal basis. You can also become a “friend” on their social media platforms and add a comment or friendly thought from time to time. Getting to know these individuals will help broaden your network and, in all likelihood, lead to new contacts at a later time.

Strategic networking takes time and effort, but the potential payoff—in terms of broadening your influence and learning from others—can significantly enhance your standing in the community.

 

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Written by Lee Polevoi

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