I’ve been on online business for 5 years and from all those years I learn nothing about business networking. Not until last year I finally concluded that in order to succeed, I need to connect with like-minded people.
Okay – will you believe me if I told you that I never really use Facebook until last year? Even today, I still think Facebook as a waste of time, but whether I like it or not, I need to jump on the bandwagon and start using Facebook – at least for my business purposes.
In fact, I never really use my social accounts to connect and build relationship with other business people.
Business networking: Better late than never!
Last year, I finally decided that it’s time for me to focus on business networking and embark in a journey of personal branding.
But, first of all, let me get things straight: I personally don’t like promoting myself as a “brand”… but, again, whether I like it or not, I need to do it. Why?
Well, first off, I was successfully making money online without networking with anyone. I build many websites, and some of them became a success.
However, Google (finally) slapped my sites hard with their Panda and Penguin updates, and the slaps were like a wake-up call for me: I relied on Google for so long, and when it’s taken out of the equation, I have nothing else left. I have a couple of clients who need my help occasionally. I know some experts in my industry but just in the know basis. But that’s all.
I realised that I need to connect with other people and position myself in a way that people will know who I am and what I do. Why? Because if they don’t know you, how will they trust you?
So, I’m off to business networking and personal branding journey…
From my one year journey into personal branding and making connections with business mentors and experts, I learn a couple of things I would like to share with you. These 5 things can help you connect and make a fruitful relationship with experts and mentors – even if you are a nobody.
1. Use your real name and credential, for God’s sake!
I – like many others – wanted to stay anonymous in the online world. Unfortunately, things don’t work like that – if you want more success, that is.
Not until last year I never refer myself as a Founder/CEO. I was referring myself as a website owner. But I finally realized that who people think you are will determine which group of people who will connect with you.
Referring myself as the Founder/CEO of my business websites (it’s the truth anyway… I AM the founder of my business websites) allows me to send the right signal for others. Suddenly, there are other CEOs and decision makers who actually ask to connect with me on social media.
Then it hits me: People always attract people alike. CEOs want to connect with other CEOs, mostly for business reasons – which is very logical, really.
With that being said, please consider using your real name and credential. It works – at least in my case.
2. Show them that you are legitimate
You need to show mentors and experts that you are not someone who thinks of “what’s in it for me?” You need to show that you are serious about connecting with them. Perhaps you are a “nobody” but that doesn’t mean you can’t show some brilliance.
But contacting them directly is no longer effective. Today is the age of Inbound Marketing. You need to show some quality stuffs and make sure they notice; it’s all about getting found, really.
If your mentor or expert runs a blog, be sure to get active at her blog. Leave insightful comments. Offer your guest posts asking for nothing in return. Ask for Q&A or interview session with them. If you own a blog, feature them in your blog. The bottom line, get yourself noticed… and trust me, they will, eventually!
Not stopping there, you should share their content on your social media. Recommend their website and/or services/products to your network. Be share-happy!
If your mentor runs a live webinar, be sure to ask smart question and be proactive in the discussion.
Don’t use a megaphone, shouting “Hiya, let’s connect!” because the response you might be getting is “I apologise, but do I know you?” Again, show some brilliance and let your efforts turn heads.
3. Offer your help
I believe that anyone can help someone. “I have nothing to offer” is just nonsense. You have PLENTY to offer.
You see, mentors and experts are busy people. They definitely need help – the just don’t ask because… they often either don’t know where or don’t have time to seek a particular solution for their specific needs.
Offer yourself as a solution; offer your help. Just don’t think “what’s in it for me?” for once. Your sincerity will pay off in one way or another. Trust me, I’ve been in this situation before.
If you are curious about the end result of doing all 3 above for my business, well, let me tell you this: I’ve secured a contract which allows me to establish a business with a different business model from what I have been doing in the past 5 years.
I’ve made acquaintance with someone from Google. I’ve secured a partnership with a CEO who I respect and considered as my mentor in my online entrepreneurial career.
The window of opportunity will open somehow, somewhere when you start changing your mindset.
Remember, you can’t do it all alone. You need to network and connect with like-minded people, and always made yourself available as a resource or someone to turn to when they need a specific help.
Commerce is about making money, but sometimes you need to stop thinking about “what’s in it for me?” and start showing others that you are a good role player; someone who is worthy to be part of a team or as a business partner.
Good luck in your business networking endeavour!