Getting Business Contacts Without Forced Networking

Although increasingly a necessary skill among young professionals, the idea of forced chatter or “working the room” at industry events or conferences may seem torturous at times even for the most extroverted of us. Whether they do in fact suffer from bouts of social awkwardness or simply don’t want to remain “on” after work hours when they have been working all day, some young professionals may have to rely on other ways to get those key business cards without networking. The key is to be strategic to ensure that business comes to you.

Your website copy
A website should clearly convey the uniqueness and benefits of what you have to offer. Besides the obvious of making sure the website is up-to-date, error free, clear and uncluttered, keep in mind that the most important thing to communicate is the benefits the client will get by hiring you. What can you do to improve their life by adding value to their services, thus resulting in increased profit for their company? At the end of the day, that’s what people care about. Paint a clear and colourful picture as to what they will gain if hiring you over someone else.  Shift the focus from you to them initially, before you quantify your credibility. 

Social Media
For those who tend to veer on the shy side in terms of face-to-face social interaction, or for the self-professed homebodies, social media is a godsend if used properly. Identify key contacts, allies and audiences and follow and engage with them through social media channels. Whatever you do, don’t bombard people with constant reminders to try your service or buy your product or spam followers with an automatic blog feed. Overdoing it will reduce the significance of your posts very quickly. Actively engage with the online community, contributing insightful comments and having actual conversations.

Virtual introductions through Friends
If you want to meet someone who one of your business partners or friends know, reach out to this mutual point person and arrange for a virtual introduction. Once a virtual introduction has been set up, then you can arrange to meet up for coffee or a drink. Once you know the purpose of the meet up and what will be discussed, you can avoid all of the awkward small talk and beating around the bush of networking events. Odds are you can repay the favour to that friend or business partner somewhere down the road.

Other social occasions
Take advantage of dinner parties, birthday parties and other social events where you can meet friends and acquaintances of friends who may be of benefit professionally at some point. You never know where your conversation will take you or how the person sitting across from you at a group dinner may help your business and vice versa. The change in environment from a stiff networking event to a fun, carefree social gathering immediately reduces the pressure and allows for a more friendly rather than professional approach to networking. After all, people want to work with people they actually like.