Larry BraunerI recently revealed my top 10 Tips for LinkedIn Social Networking and 16 Tips for Ning Social Networking.

I’ve also written Top 16 Reasons I Like Facebook More Than Twitter and 10 Simple Ideas for Setting Up a New Twitter Business Account.

However, let’s not kid ourselves. You and I both know that there’s much more to business networking than engaging on business networking sites. Effective business networking calls for a wide range of skills and resources.

Business Networking Strategies

Business NetworkingI asked just last week, How Much Real Networking on Social Networking Sites?

Frankly, I believe that there’s too little real business networking either online or off.

For this reason, I present you with a long — although far from complete — list of business networking strategies, hoping that you’ll find an idea or two that you can implement to your advantage.

Here are 22 business networking strategies:

  1. Always Be Networking - Every person you meet has the potential to introduce you to others in his or her network. Try to meet people every day.
  2. Networking is not Prospecting - Don’t treat all people as prospects. Your job is to develop some degree of relationship with each person you meet. This aspect of networking is explained in depth in Tommy Spaulding’s It’s Not Just Who You Know, which characterizes five levels of relating and explains the hows and whys of each.
  3. Network with Networkers - Business networking enables you to meet people whom you don’t already know. The networking concept is very well explained in Jim Randel’s The Skinny on Networking. Many of the people you’ll meet won’t have the inclination to share their networks with you. Don’t sweat it. Simply move on.
  4. Cast a Wide Net - Try not to prejudge people. All people have merit, and you never know who’ll provide you with a valuable referral. Targeting is a useful marketing concept, but in business and social networking, it’s possible to carry the targeting concept too far.
  5. Determine What You Want - If you don’t know what you want, how will you be able to tell others what you want? Not only that, you’ll be like a Sunday driver going from here to there without an intended destination. Become clear about where you want to go but be prepared to adjust your business networking course as you go along.
  6. Know Whom You Want to Meet - You need to know whom you want to meet, so that the members of your business or social network can help you meet such people.
  7. Fish Where the Fish Are - Join business networking sites and attend business networking events where you can connect with potential prospects and plenty of serious networkers.
  8. Focus on Giving, not Taking - I recommend that you read Bob Burg and John David Mann’s The Go-Giver. The importance of giving and receiving, not taking, extends far beyond business networking. You can become a powerful resource for your network! This blog is one of my ways of giving and being a resource.
  9. Be a Perfectionist - With key contacts, you can’t afford to be even a little sloppy. Polish your personal appearance, refine your business networking profiles and craft your communications, so that you’ll always make a great impression. We can’t be perfect, but we must at least do our very best.
  10. Strive for Consistency - Don’t rely on short intermittent bursts of activity in business networking or in other areas of your life. It’s hard to cram for tests, but it’s even harder to cram for relationships.
  11. Diversify - Don’t put all your business networking eggs in too few baskets. Be on the lookout for new and creative ways to meet people.
  12. Go the Extra Distance - When you think you’ve done all you can, see if you can do a bit more.
  13. Use Your Time Effectively - You can’t hope do everything, so employ the 80/20 rule and prioritize your business networking initiatives.
  14. Stay Organized - Keep a record of your business contacts’ names and personal information, as well as a log of your interactions with them. Find an approach that’s feasible for you.
  15. Pick Up the Phone - Get more personal. Use the phone, Skype and face-to-face meetings to make a close connection with your contacts and business networking partners.
  16. Build Your Network Online and Off - Don’t network exclusively either online or offline. Read Ivan Misner, David Alexander and Brian Hillard’s Networking Like a Pro. Besides being a master networker, Ivan Misner is Founder and Chairman at BNI, a business networking organization that spans the globe. It’s critical to recognize the need for business networking both online and off.
  17. Do not Abuse or Spam a Your Contacts - Aggressive behavior online or off will kill your chances of building a network and earn you a bad reputation.
  18. Don’t Waste Time with Overly Skeptical People - Preach only to the choir. If someone doesn’t get it, don’t try make him or her get it. Talk to somebody else.
  19. Learn from the Experts - There are many excellent networking books, such as the ones I mention here. Books, seminars and the people we meet have much to teach us about business networking, our vocational fields — and life.
  20. Build Your Network before You Need It - Harvey Mackay’s Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty is an oldie but a goodie. It takes a long time to grow a business or social network. If you wait until you need a business network before you start building it, you’ll regret your decision to delay.
  21. Be Authentic - Real people want to network and conduct business with those who are completely genuine and transparent.
  22. Follow Through - Follow up quickly and appropriately on business networking referrals. When people give you referrals, your actions reflect on them. Respect that and your referrals will grow.

Most people have business networks of manageable size. If you have an especially large network, you can hire a virtual assistant or an  outbound call center outsourcing to help you contact your network. Good outbound call centers have a wide breadth of relationship management experience and expertise that they can share.

Now it’s your turn. As I said earlier, this list is “far from complete.” What are some of your favorite business networking tips?

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed or by e-mail. Visit my About, Services, Media Buzz and Connect pages to learn about Building Your Audience and Brand on the Web. See also my Disclosure Policy regarding affiliations and compensation.

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22 Responses to “22 Business Networking Tips”

  1. Bunn Coffee Makers on May 1st, 2011 11:34 pm

    Larry, I have noticed that in general your great white-hat advice is directed at individuals/small businesses who can benefit from a bit of social networking if they are patient. All that is surely fine, but I suspect you might be guarding the real secrets from us and holding them close to your chest. :)

    I would like to see you talk more about social networking on a commercial scale. I mean, I know there are corporations out there who pay quite a lot for social networking. I also know there are companies who charge quite a lot for these services. How does one *provide* social networking for corporations? That’s what I would like to hear about. I know for a fact that when, say, Facebook work gets outsourced to India, fan pages get joined by thousands of fake accounts. That is probably not an effective form of marketing.

    But how might one deploy social networking professionally for a company like, say, Kodak or Verizon? If you got hired to do that, what would you do? That would be more interesting (for me) to know. How do you social network marketers do it?

    Please write more about that kind of stuff!


  2. Rabbi Issamar Ginzberg on May 2nd, 2011 7:21 am

    Fantastic advice.

    Follow through. Follow through. Follow through.

    That is the secret key to making referrals into connections of your own.

  3. Jack Goldenberg on May 2nd, 2011 9:11 am

    A good networker listens as much as he talks. Maybe more. The more you listen, the more genuine you can be about understanding where the other person is coming from.


  4. Sue Reddel on May 2nd, 2011 11:57 am

    Great list Larry. I would add to #18 also be positive your self all the time. It’s amazing how many negative Nelly’s you meet at networking events. Politely move on and spread your sunshine to someone who will appreciate it. Have a great week!

  5. Brian Sundquist on May 2nd, 2011 2:38 pm

    Nice to see you’re on LinkedIn finally. So you are spreading your wings and landing on some nests out there.

    Do you have any lists of the so-called social networks that are worth while to connect to?

    See you around the globe,

    Brian Sundquist!!!

  6. Larry Brauner on May 2nd, 2011 8:43 pm

    @Phillip - The only secrets I’m holding back are related to search engine optimization. I’m entitled to preserve some intellectual property.

    It’s important to make a distinction between social networking and social marketing. Although executives and staff at corporations often network socially, their companies market socially.

    If there’s a secret to their success, it’s that they integrate social marketing with their other marketing and communications channels.

    I do write about these things sometimes, but my main audience consists of small business owners and entrepreneurs.

    @Issamar, Jack and Sue - Thank you for your comments.

    @Brian!!! - Most Popular Social Networking and Business Networking Sites

  7. Marly Manning on May 2nd, 2011 11:31 pm

    GREAT tips, insights and suggestions! I look forward to exploring your material in depth.

    Question: What is the best way to link a blog to a business Facebook page? Typepad is telling me you can only use Facebook Connect with personal pages. Surely there is a way around this?

    Many thanks for all you do!

  8. Larry Brauner on May 3rd, 2011 8:15 am

    Thank you Marly. I suggest that you use Networked Blogs for your Facebook syndication.

  9. Philip on May 3rd, 2011 11:45 am

    Of course, that’s an important distinction: networking vs. marketing. Thanks for the continuous enlightenment.

  10. The Skinny on Networking by Jim Randel | Online Social Networking on May 3rd, 2011 9:42 pm

    […] 22 Business Networking Tips […]

  11. James on May 8th, 2011 1:50 pm

    Especially point #8 is vital in my view. Too many enter into different networks to GET instead of to GIVE. And because of this approach, they often fail. I know it might be difficult for many to enter to give when you actually want to get something, but due to the law of reciprocity you WILL get what you came for and probably much more if you just keep giving all that you have.

    Great list!


  12. Elizabeth Crane on May 9th, 2011 11:53 am

    Great list Larry. Thanks. Although emphasized over and over again here you can’t underestimate the importance of following up with people. Even just a quick email with a “great to meet you” type tone immediately after meeting someone is great. Helps to keep you on their radar.

  13. Beryn Hammil on May 9th, 2011 3:05 pm

    Great article, but missing one important detail. I learned this tip years ago and it never fails me. It’s simple and anyone can do it.

    What’s the trick? Smile and make good eye contact. You’ll make an indelible impression when you do.

  14. Mike J on May 15th, 2011 11:24 pm

    Excellent tips, one of the best tips I try to give is to just act! So many people worry about what to do and when to do it. I just say get started move forward (do move smart) I think you loose more opportunity deciding what to do than by getting in the mix and taking action often. As long as you are honest and bring value to your market, succes will come.

  15. 22 Business Networking Tips « Corporate Class Inc. Articles on May 16th, 2011 12:24 pm

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  16. Glennda Mirabete on May 18th, 2011 7:43 pm

    Oh well, nothing beats a person who’s genuine. As you say, people want to conduct business with people they can reach.

  17. 18 Articles Help You Master LinkedIn Strategy and Technique | Online Social Networking on May 22nd, 2011 10:15 pm

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  18. Amelia@ International Business on May 26th, 2011 7:53 am

    In this day where social media is the “it” thing, business networking should also follow suit. In the past, when you talk about business networking, usually it just involves gatherings, forums, conventions, meetings, and conferences. Today, it all changed because of the Internet.

    Businessmen, industry experts, job hunters, and company owners all have an immediate and much more efficient venue because of the World Wide Web.

    This is where LinkedIn got an upper hand. It combined the features of social media and business networking into one.

  19. krissy knox on May 27th, 2011 6:13 pm

    Great advice. I like how you said “don’t treat everybody as a prospect.” I mean, treat each person as a person, and be open, but don’t be pushy. And if you do this, they will know you are there when they need something. That’s what I believe. Well said about not just treating them as a prospect! I’ve had that happen to me, and it is a HUGE turn off!

    You made so many good points. I can’t reply to them all. I’ll just say that I also like “diversify.” You need to diversify in your networking. You’ll never know what you may need help w, or what someone may need help from you with! :) Also, if you are a solo-preneur, you must consider “multiple streams of income.”

    thanks for all your fabulous tips, mr brauner. krissy knox :)

  20. Quantity vs. Quality in Business Networking | Online Social Networking on June 19th, 2011 8:52 pm

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  22. Adam on March 13th, 2012 10:12 am

    I was intrigued by your passing mention to outsourcing network management and growth to a call center. Would be interested to hear more about how that can be done effectively (other than using a scheudler to keep track of my network breakfasts, lunches, and events).

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