Feeling uninspired? Break out the business cards. If you’re looking for new ways to encourage business growth and innovation, lean on the old school tactic of networking.
Syncing up with other business leaders and entrepreneurs can help your business get a jump start. Just as traditional networking is one of the best ways to find a new job, the practice of meeting other professionals socially can help you improve the job you have. Start by seeking out professionals who offer another perspective on what’s happening in your industry. What products are working for the consumer market? What businesses could use a boost? You can learn so much by simply spending time away from your desk.
> Don’t Skip the Small Talk
Don’t forget to discuss topics other than business—chatting about sports, favorite brands of whiskey, or current events can be a great way to build rapport without forcing the conversation.
> Expand Your Social Circle
Moving beyond your typical contacts can broaden your horizons even more than networking in your field can. By meeting business professionals and entrepreneurs in other industries and business sectors, you can borrow from their best practices and find ways to grow your own business with similar tactics.
> Plan a Collaboration
Connections made outside your business social circle can also help set you up for professional partnerships and collaborations. As you meet with entrepreneurs in your community, think about ways to connect your businesses through joint ventures or even charity work.
Need for Speed
Based on speed dating events for singles, companies are capitalizing on speed networking—a fast-paced tactic for getting to know other professionals in just a few minutes. Before the event, professionals submit information about themselves as well as what type of connections they are hoping to make. Organize or attend such an event, and you’re sure to make numerous contacts.
You don’t need an official speed networking event to capitalize on the power of rapidly making connections—just attend a business conference. Tom Jaffee, founder of business and social company Match Events, says that the best time for speed networking is after the first morning keynote speech—attendees are excited by the first moments of the conference and pour that energy into meeting others.