When it comes to business networking — there is more than one avenue to consider. As Ivan Misner, Ph.D. writes in the hallmark business networking book ‘Networking Like a Pro: Turning Contacts into Connections,’ there are four streams that can be utilized in your networking river. Just as a business consists of multiple facets to operate and reach success, so should your networking initiatives.
“You need to think of your network as a broad, powerful river being fed by several smaller streams, each providing a distinct set of contacts as well as unique opportunities to make your network deeper, stronger, and more diverse,” Misner writes. “Together they are far more effective at putting you in touch with your best prospects than they would be if you accessed them separately and added up the results.”
Your network needs a diversity of sources, so it will be just as effective as a diverse business plan. Misner details the four streams in a simple matter. Keep in mind these four streams are not the only ones that exist, however, they provide an exceptional base for not only the beginner but also the advanced business networker.
• Casual – Contact Network: For this network, think of casual business meetings — the ones that typically occur monthly, and may contain individuals within your specific field — or maybe a more broad, umbrella business meeting containing attendees from a variety of fields. These types of groups usually meet monthly and hold mixer type meetings, Misner says. Other times they host events with guest speakers or breakfast roundtable meetings.
• Knowledge Network: These groups are more specific to business — consisting of traditional professional organizations. Each nice industry has one. If you don’t know yours — find it out — and join immediately. Take advantage of meetings on the local and national levels in these organizations. Examples of membership groups in this area include, banking, accounting, health services, legal services or architecture, Misner says.
• Online Network: While the face-to-face in person networking has been around for countless years, online networking is still a relatively new avenue — but a vital one. Your online presence is integral to an effective business networking strategy. Online business networking site include Linkedin.com and Facebook.com, Misner says. Instant communication on these sites with groups and individuals within your industry allows instant communications.
• Strong – Contact Group: The final avenue for business networking is being active in organizations that exist to primarily help members exchange business referrals, Misner says. BNI, the world’s largest business networking organization, is an example in this category. When it comes to strong-contact groups keep in mind you should attend meetings regularly as they are your focal point. Also buy into the team approach that defines these groups, Misner says. Service clubs are also in this category. Don’t overlook the benefits giving of your time can yield long-term.
Check out all of Ivan Misner’s books online. Which of these four channels do you plan to start using?