How do you network in 2022? Well, I’ve been networking for over half-a-decade now, and let me tell you, there’s never been more opportunities for business growth through networking than right now.
See, a lot of people tell me they avoid networking and don’t do cold reach-outs.
They’ll say that what frustrates them most about networking is…
- “Feeling like I’m being fake and asking people for something without having anything to offer in return…”
- “…feeling sleazy or like I’m ‘selling’ them something.”
- “Getting my network to respond to my offers / requests for connections.”
The truth is that while no business growth strategy is easy (including networking), with a little bit of work ethic, and the right guidance, you can make incredible business growth even with a small network.
So, with that in mind and without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about networking to grow your business in 2022.
Step #1: Gather All Your Valuable Contacts
There are ten different types of valuable contacts. But, only a select few specific to helping with the growth of your business. So, those will be the types that we focus on here.
To stay organized throughout your networking journey, it’s best to put some well-thought-out preparations together. And, the best way to prepare to network for business growth is with a Profit Playbook.
Create Your Profit Playbook
The Profit Playbook is a classic framework for getting clear on:
- Who to reach (your potential audiences)
- Where to reach them (your fishing holes)
- What problems they’re facing (their burning pains)
- What solutions you can offer them (your “crunchy solutions”)
- Multiple ways that you can potentially monetize (your products to sell)
For the sake of keeping this guide focused on networking, we’ll only focus on numbers one and two in that list.
Who to reach (potential audiences)
Who would be interested in your idea or what you’re selling?
So, let’s say, for example, that you’re selling a product or service on social skills. A few potential audiences for you are:
- Job hunters who want to nail that interview
- Employees who want to move “up the ladder”
- People who just moved into a new city and want new friends
(But!) Here’s where many businesspeople make a huge mistake that costs them their time and effort. And, this is also why many businesspeople think of networking as a “waste of time.”
They focus solely on targeting those exact job hunters, employees looking for that promotion, or people new to a certain area. They make their potential audiences their target contact.
Your potential audiences can be your target customers, but they’re not your target contacts. And, there is a difference (keep reading).
Where to reach them (fishing holes)
Where can you find your potential audience?
Take a look on social media and think about whose YouTube channel or Instagram account your potential audience subscribes to or follows. On Google, type in the actual search phrases your audience would use.
So, continuing from the social skills offer example, some phrases might be:
- “how to make small talk”
- “how to be confident”
- “how to make a good first impression”
- “how to make friends”
- “how to have difficult conversations”
The top results for each search will be influencers. For YouTube, you’ll notice channels that have gotten millions of views on their videos on social skills. On Google, you’ll notice blog articles that rank at the very top from websites that get lots of visitors.
These influencers are your target contacts. Instead of connecting with your target customers one by one (which is really lead generation), connect with the influencers who control the large fishing holes that hundreds of your target customers show up to every day (which is the best form of business networking to grow your business). Then, collaborate with those influencers to reach hundreds of prospects at once.
There are many other fishing holes than only YouTube and Google, so get creative with where you search for your potential audiences as well.
Step #2: Organize and Categorize Your Contacts
You can organize and categorize your contacts in many different ways. Find a way that makes the most sense for you.
I like to organize my contacts based on what type of “valuable contact” they are.
- People with access to capital (people who, if you want to go out and raise money, empower you to do that)
- People who are connectors (people who “know everybody.” They have a large rolodex of connections)
- Media people with a big following for announcements (people who can help promote your projects / endeavors)
- People who are celebrities (people who, if you threw a party, having them show up would draw in other big fish)
Of course, there are many other “valuable contact-types” (you can find the full list in the “Rockefeller Rolodex Method“).
But, this list is an example of what I mean by organizing your contacts by what type of value they bring to the table. So, whenever you need access to capital, you can simply go to that section of your networking / relationship tracker and call down the list.
Step #3: Outline Your Deal Flow Funnels
Your “deal flow funnel” is your process to connect with your target contact, move the relationship forward, and eventually collaborate with them to grow your business.
Your deal flow funnel will look different depending on if you’re networking over email, social media, in person, or via some other medium. And, it will also look different depending on who you’re looking to connect with. But, as a general example, it can look something like this:
- Reach Out / Connect.
- Introduce Yourself.
- Create a Small / Medium Touchpoint (e.g. Brief Phone Chat)
- Negotiate a Win-Win Collaboration / Deal
And, as you move more and more people through the funnel — from the top where you reach out and connect with them to the bottom where you reach a win-win deal — you’ll experience more and more growth and success in your business.
Best Places To Network
A few of the best mediums to use for business networking in 2022 are:
- Business Networking Groups
If you know your way around the internet, there are ways to get anyone’s email address. And, email is a go-to favorite of mine because:
- You can stand out with a professional email address and email signature
- You can move a contact to a small / medium touchpoint quicker with a well-crafted email
- You can easily snooze email threads to remember to follow up with your contacts later
- You can track emails to know if and when they get opened (and how many times)
- Everyone (worth knowing) has an email address
Best Ways To Connect
Generally speaking, there are two main ways to connect with a target contact. Through either inbound or outbound networking strategies.
Inbound Networking Strategies
Inbound networking is a bit more difficult, but it can be done.
For example, if there’s a certain CEO you want to connect with, you can use content creation to connect with them. As networking expert Dorie Clark recommends, you can use your own blog or sites like LinkedIn or Medium (Clark, 2021). And, the more SEO traction those posts get, the higher your chances of getting on that contact’s radar. Even better if that contact has Google Alerts set up so they know whenever they get featured in the news and catches wind of your articles.
With that said though, that approach can be a long, arduous, and painful process with no guarantee you’re getting seen by your target contact. That’s why I recommend outbound networking strategies more often (which follows the “Best Places To Network” list above).
Still, inbound networking strategies may be something to consider if you have a big budget and are willing to invest in a relationship with a contact who can change your life or business forever. (Or, if you happen to have a large audience and online authority, but that’s a rare exception.)
Another option if you’re interested in inbound networking is to become a party organizer (Ellsberg).
Simple Definition: “Inbound simply means that instead of going or reaching out to connect with contacts, they come to you.”
So, by hosting your own soirée and inviting different people that you’ve connected with over time to the event, you can become the person people come to when they want to know what’s going on in town — you can become the “party person.”
Still, once again, that may not be the best option for you (especially if you’re not the “party animal” type).
The primary inbound networking strategies that work in 2022 are:
- Content Creation
- Hosting Parties
Outbound Networking Strategies
Your outbound networking strategy is going to depend on your funnel. But, there are a couple of things that generally stay the same whenever you’re networking:
- You aim to connect with your contact over a small / medium touchpoint such as a phone or video chat.
- Over that phone or video call, you move towards a collaboration with them by searching for ways you might be able to help them.
And, that’s one of the things that I love about business networking groups. They’re often organized with a plan to schedule time for members to connect with each other and discover ways they might be able to collaborate with one another.
When that process is started for you and you’re in conversations with other businesspeople who already know how to network, it makes the entire relationship-building and collaboration-starting process much smoother, quicker, and more effective.
Plus, as an added benefit, the types of people who carve out the time to attend business networking group meeting are typically “Connectors.” And, that means that they might already have a solid network and can make introductions for you that can significantly (and sometimes creatively) impact your business.
The primary outbound networking strategies that still work in 2022 are:
- Email Reach-Outs
- LinkedIn Relationship-Building
- Business Networking Groups
- Lunchclub Video Meetings
- Social Media Approaching
Now, I wouldn’t say that methods such as in-person event networking and phone networking are “dead.” But, they’re outdated.
Of course, as with anything, there are exceptions to this rule. Such as if you manage to attend a red carpet with influential celebrities and have the social skills to naturally build a relationship with a few of them. Or, if you’re able to make it into events where you know lots of value-givers go to meet new people.
Plus, learning how to network at a live, in-person networking event can help groom your networking skills across all facets and mediums.
But, generally speaking, cold-calling and event networking are slowly losing its charm among the business professionals who are worth connecting with. And, to see business growth, you want to make sure you’re investing your time with networking strategies that connect you to the people who can make a positive impact in your life and business. And, the majority of those types of people follow the five outbound networking strategies above.
So, if you want to run into them, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to do the same.
Step #4: Stay In Touch Using Value
Naturally, as with any relationship, you’ll lose it if you don’t stay in touch.
The key here is to avoid staying in touch by repeatedly asking for favors. Seek out ways to share and give value to your contacts. They’ll appreciate it and, maybe even more importantly, whenever they get a call from you, they won’t have the knee-jerk reaction to decline because they know you’re only calling to ask for something.
How To Add Value
To stay in touch by adding value to the lives of your contacts, you may need to get creative.
One popular strategy a few years back was to email your contact a recent, popular article or blog post that’s relevant to their business. Given that many top business leaders and CEOs are readers, it was something most of them appreciated and could easily keep you top of mind.
In 2022, however, that’s still a pretty solid strategy if you can do it right. (And, by “do it right,” I mean don’t be lazy. Make sure you read the article before you share it with others.)
However, there are other networking experts who believe that’s a weak way of keeping in touch. For example, becoming the party person and hosting monthly business or social events draws people in (Ellsberg). The better your parties, the better the contacts you’ll attract.
And, the best part is you don’t have to expend effort reaching out to hundreds of contacts to keep those relationships warm. You can simply throw a party on the same day every month (so your contacts always know when it is) and make it a type of party you and others enjoy. Your contacts will show up to enjoy a good time and the relationships will stay warm. (Your relationships can even grow and deepen if you take the time to prepare bonding activities at your parties).
But, your personality and personal preferences determine what approach would cost you more effort or energy.
One pretty low cost way of adding value to stay in touch is with social media. You can use Twitter to comment on people’s posts and retweet them. And, you can use social media to message them directly and send them links they might enjoy that are related to their personal hobbies (Clark, 2021).
On the surface, this may seem like the perfect strategy for keeping in touch. After all, you’re adding value by:
- Giving them engagement with your comments
- Giving them exposure by sharing their posts
- Giving them valuable information with the links you share via direct message
Unfortunately, this may be a case where your low effort is matched by a low return. Many people with a low amount of influence may enjoy these things. And, the farther ahead in life the contact you use this strategy with, the less they’re likely to appreciate it because, unless you have an equal amount of influence as them:
- Your comments are likely to get lost in the sea of other comments
- Your reposts are likely to go unnoticed
- Influential people typically show more appreciation for deeper expressions of connection
So, if you’re not careful to use the social media networking strategies that still work today, you could run into challenges that aren’t worth the time or effort to solve.
That’s why some of the best ways to keep in touch in 2022 are:
- Sending a text message with value inside
- Sending an email with value inside
- Hosting a party
- Sending a direct message via social media with value inside
And, the reason why “hosting a party” is only the third bullet point on the list and not at the top (despite how highly I might have spoken about it before) is because, while your target contacts probably enjoy a good time like we all do, that doesn’t necessarily make them party animals.
Some of them may prefer the more intimate, personal ways of connecting than the big group gatherings and activities. (And, it’s best to be mindful of that if you want to see results in your networking efforts.)
Step #5: Add New Contacts On Time
Set a regular schedule to do your networking and expand your rolodex of connections.
The more often you network, the more often you’ll see your business take leaps and strides toward your business goals.
And, keep in mind that consistency is key. The more times you miss your scheduled networking days, the more often you’ll move backwards in your progress to business growth.
The only exception to that is if you’re de-prioritizing relationships to prioritize other systems for scaling such as:
- Linear Growth Systems: Business development, sales, and, of course, relationships. Improving your operating systems also falls under linear growth here.
- Exponential Growth: Your next innovative campaign. Or, your leadership development.
Unfortunately, not all of us can do exponential growth activities all of the time — and we shouldn’t. A good business requires a good balance between exponential and linear growth because businesses fail for two reasons: they either grow too fast or grow too slow.
And, with business networking, you can grow steadily while also making relationships that advance large, exponential growth, such as contacts who can make your next innovative campaign a reality. Or, even contacts who can ensure successful leadership development within your organization (these are typically your mentors).
That’s the beauty of networking that can’t be found in any of the other systems you might come across. It’s the only activity that has the power to enhance all aspects of your business and unlock all forms of growth while the other systems can only focus on one area at a time. (For example, if you focus on sales, it can only achieve linear growth and more sales. But, if you focus on networking, you can connect with someone who can help you achieve your next innovative campaign, leadership development, and more sales. Networking is the only activity that enhances all areas of business growth.)
You don’t need a big network to achieve this either. When it comes to connections and relationships, quality over quantity is what matters. So, as I said in the beginning, you can make incredible business growth from having a small network. Focus on the few who can bring you the most results (if you will, the 20% of connections who add 80% of the value to your life and business).
Do that, and you’ll be climbing your way to the top in no time.
Get Started Right Now
To get started right now, make a list of 100 names of the people you’d like to be friends with. Make sure the people you choose to add to this list are people who you think are best equipped to help you toward your business goals.
If you’re not sure who should make the list, refer to the “Gather All Your Valuable Contacts” section and your Profit Playbook.
Then, start working on your list. Once you have your list (your valuable contacts gathered), follow the rest of the steps above to begin building those relationships and sparking collaborations that lead to massive business growth.
Business networking is an important practice to grow your business.
Learning to put systems in place to automate your business networking will increase your pipeline of deals and collaborations, and it will make you more effective with your pursuit of exponential growth. And, the process of learning to connect with others and negotiate collaborations that are a win for everybody will also make you a better leader on its own.
This article provided you with an overview of how to network in 2022, including effective ways of looking at networking, and plenty of business networking concepts.
If you want more ideas, go to our reviews, where there are more examples, techniques, and strategies.