Networking is so important in business, especially when you are first starting out. There are a lot of established business leaders out there who can help you on your journey and give you some amazing advice. There are also a lot of other companies that you can partner with to help drive the business forward.
But before you can do that, you need to build a strong list of contacts that you can get in touch with whenever you need them. There’s an art to building a contact list and it’s not just about finding people to add, you also need to keep things organized too. If you are new to the business world, here are some simple tips to help you build your contact list.
Decide Who To Target
Before you can start building your list, you need to decide what kind of people to add to it. For instance, if you are starting a home cleaning business, your list needs to include potential clients and any other businesses that you can partner with. But if you are opening a restaurant, then it’s going to be stuffed full of contacts for suppliers and advertisers. Decide who the most important people will be and start adding them to your list first. Networking takes a lot of time and effort, so you need to make sure you are approaching the right people.
Attend Networking Events
Most cities have networking events that you can attend. You will meet all kinds of people and you can go prepared to approach them with a goal in mind. If they own their own business, then ask for some advice and see if there is any way that you can partner up together. For instance, an accountant might want marketing help and a marketing company might need some accounting assistance – it’s all about finding out what people need and seeing if there is any way you can fill the gap.
When you are searching for networking events, look for industry-specific ones and see if you can get an idea of who is going. If they have a social media page, see who else is following it so you can see who is likely to be at the event. You should also plan business trips so you can meet people from further afield, just make sure that you get the balance between business and travel right.
Follow Up Quickly After Meetings
You are not the only person in attendance at events like these, so you need to make sure that you follow up with all of the people you meet quickly. Send them an email or give them a call right away so you are on their radar. They’ve met a lot of people at the event and if you don’t get in touch right afterwards and start building a relationship, they’ll move on and forget all about you.
Organize The List Into Categories
If you are like most people, you will end up with a pretty big list of contacts by the time you get to the end of your networking events. To make it easier to use and organize, put them into different categories and group similar companies together. When you have a problem or you need some advice about a certain area, you will be able to find contact details for the relevant person right away. But if you have all of your contacts in a big messy list, you’ll spend hours searching through to find the person you need.
Backup The List
You never know when you might lose something, so always back up your networking list. If it’s stored on your computer and the hard drive decides to pack in one day, then you’ll be frantically hunting for contacts like mad. So instead of storing it locally, save it onto an external drive or put it into the cloud. You can also sync contacts from iPhone to Mac so they’re stored on your phone as well as your computer. That way if there is any data loss or hardware failure, at least your contacts are safe. The last thing you want is to find yourself unable to contact business associates because you lost their phone number and email.
Make Sure You Take Advantage Of Your Contacts
This might seem obvious but a lot of people don’t actually use the contacts they build. They put effort into networking and build a big list of people that they never end up contacting. So, make sure that you leverage that network whenever you can and create mutually beneficial relationships that help to drive your business forward.
Follow these steps to build a strong contact list for your business and you will find it much easier to get ahead.