Running a business can be very time consuming, but spending time expanding your list of contacts can potentially lead to future sales or referrals. Your efforts could even develop into partnerships or coopetition.

Have you thought about using your personal interests to build new relationships? There are different ways to reach out and make new connections.

  • Engage in social media by joining a group that interests you where you can actively participate as a member. Listening to others demonstrates that you have a genuine interest in them.
  • Do volunteer work or join a board of an organization that you believe in. It is important that you participate regularly and become someone people can trust. People are more apt to refer their contacts to your business if they know you are reliable and trustworthy.
  • Join a group, class, gym or other activity that you personally enjoy. Networking does not always have to be about marketing your business, but is more about building relationships.

Suppose you own a home cleaning business and also have an interest in flower arranging. You might attend a class and meet someone who is starting a floral design business. This may be a chance to start and develop a new business relationship. You could exchange opportunities by perhaps leaving behind a flower and the designer's business card once you have cleaned your customer's home. As an added bonus, you give your own business a stylish touch! The floral designer could in turn provide his or her customers with a reference to your cleaning business to help with event cleanup.

The more relationships that you develop and maintain, the more your name and business could be top of mind if someone is seeking a referral or looking to buy your product or services. Expand your networks by doing something you are interested in; you never know who you could meet on a hiking trail, in a boardroom, on a social media platform, at the gym or in an art class.

Learn other ways to expand your network from our blog entitled: Business meet-ups: Networking for the new millennium.