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18 Tips & Strategies to Fit Networking Into a Busy Schedule

Updated: June 26, 2018
Tips and strategies for business networking

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The momentum of success can be lost when professionals become bogged down in the minutiae of an expanding business.

Finding the time to network effectively can be challenging and seem impossible to fit into a busy schedule, but it can be done by implementing a few effective strategies. Below is a list of networking suggestions gleaned from interviews with busy professionals who've mastered the art of networking around their daily routines.

1. Make the Most of Your Favorite Social Media Platform

Woman accessing account for facebook social network

Photo by Kaboompics.com from Pexels

Social media is too often a time-waster that we use for entertainment when it can be a great way to keep abreast of what our peers and colleagues are doing.

Make it a point to connect with key people you already know and add more contacts as you meet them, then stay in touch periodically if you see opportunities for collaboration. It's a good way to reinforce real-life connections.

2. Join a Social Network for Entrepreneurs

Two businessmen socializing during networking event

Photo by Nappy from Pexels

We all hear about the benefits of social media and online networks, but if you don't have much time to spend shifting through irrelevant posts and messages, it can be more efficient to join an entrepreneur network like Cofoundr.

These social networks can make it easier to find like-minded people in your own industry to connect with.

3. Make Use of LinkedIn

Logo for LinkedIn business networking platform

Image from Pixabay

Speaking of professional social networks, LinkedIn is the go-to social platform for maintaining professional connections.

LinkedIn not only showcases your own resume, it gives you a way of keeping in touch with professional references and contacts from the past and present. When you need to find expertise in a given industry, search results are just a few clicks away.

4. Take Professional Relationships Online

UC One Communicator for video conferencing and meetings

When you want to set time aside to explore a connection with a contact, don't feel like it has to be a face-to-face lunch or coffee hour.

Audio and video teleconferencing technologies can make the most out of your valuable time by making it possible to share documents or presentations at the same time as you talk. Look into VoIP and video conferencing solutions that you can use at work and at home.

5. Plan Business Trips with Networking Events in Mind

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When you need to travel to business-related conferences, don't think of it as a chore. Check on social media to see who else is going and make time to meet with past or present contacts.

Keeping dormant relationships fresh and connecting with active collaborators will make the conference experience more rewarding.

6. Put New Contacts on Hold When You Get Overwhelmed

Closed signed is presented on store's front door

Photo by Tim Mossholder from Pexels

If your personal life is overtaking your business life, one way to stay focused and efficient with your time is to cut back on looking for new contacts.

Chances are you have a wealth of past contacts in the form of friends and former colleagues you can put your focus on instead. Research has shown that these dormant connections can be more profitable than new ones because you already have past experiences to build on.

7. Reach Out to Your Second or Third Tier Social Networks

Businessmen introducing colleagues and making new contacts

One way friends and former colleagues can help is to recommend contacts they already know who will make good collaborators for a project you're working on.

Because they already know your business and interests, they can be in a good place to find new contacts for you. Social platforms like LinkedIn make it easy to explore those second and third-tier contacts on your own, too.

8. Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up

Woman following up meetings by email and phone

Photo by Rawpixel.com from Pexels

You're not the only busy professional in your social network. The reality of increasingly distracted lifestyles means that you will often need to follow up persistently to keep a connection alive or collaboration on track.

Don't fall into the assumption that the contact isn't interested unless they fail to respond at all. Chances are, they are juggling priorities and events just like you.

9. Make Yourself Approachable Any Time

voip solutions allows you to take your office anywhere

With today's communication technologies, you don't have many excuses left to give potential new contacts the cold shoulder.

Using smart mobile and messaging technologies, you can effectively manage a busy lifestyle and separate your personal life from work. Being available for new connections when they pop up can make the difference when you need a fresh collaboration or new idea.

10. Go to an Event Once a Week

Casual social gathering for entrepreneurs and business owners

Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

Getting out among your peers in face-to-face events will keep your local connections alive and well. Choose events that you know your contacts will go to or events that are relevant to ongoing business projects.

You'll find that you naturally run into new contacts who can offer opportunities for inspiration or old friends who have some new insights of their own.

11. Schedule Attendance of Major Industry Events

Business people networking at corporate convention

Photo by Julian V from Pexels

If you're in an industry that holds major conventions or conferences, make the time to attend. If you're in a position to be visible at such events, do it.

In any case, treat these events are times to catch up on the latest trends and meet other professionals who have their own projects of interest in the pipeline.

12. Do Favors for Contacts in Your Network

Two businessmen exchanging thanks for helping

It's one thing to speak or correspond periodically, but a tried-and-true way to keep important contacts in your corner is to be willing to do favors when asked.

Favor trading is the social grease of professional networks and making a habit of doing favors means you'll have social capital to tap into when you need it. This is especially true when you need to fill a key position for one of your projects. Your inner circle of contacts will be the first place to look for suggestions.

13. Meet Your Local Contacts for Coffee Every Month

Barista displays great looking cup of coffee

Photo by Chevanon Photography from Pexels

You can keep up to date with friends and colleagues who are local with a monthly get together at a favorite coffee lounge.

Spending downtime together helps keep relationships strong with good memories and allows for creative conversations to happen spontaneously.

14. Practice Your Introductions and Elevator Pitches

Beautiful business elevator, with door opened

You never know when you'll run into someone who could turn into a valuable contact. It could be at work during a tour or interviewing. It could be at a local industry event.

Because important contacts can happen serendipitously, it's a good habit to have a practiced introduction or quick elevator pitch ready. Frequent practice will make introductions come off naturally, so don't neglect your first impression skills.

15. Make Time for Networking by Delegating Day-to-Day Work

Administrative assistant helping busy entrepreneur

When running a business becomes too burdensome for one person to handle, it can be tempting to resist delegating tasks that you've always done yourself.

Networking for new clients and talent becomes more important as a business grows, so don't be afraid to start offloading some of your workloads onto trusted assistants.

16. Lunch Alone Is a Missed Opportunity

Table at a cafe prepared for business meeting

Photo by Kaboompics.com from Pexels

Lunch is a perfect time to keep in touch with local colleagues, clients, and friends. That solid hour of downtime during the workday can be spent exchanging stories, references, and ideas, which can make quite a difference when you do it daily.

Make a point to arrange lunch hours within your local business network. It can also be a good way to catch up with old contacts that have gone dormant.

17. Introduce Yourself Often

Two businessmen introduce themselves in meeting

Photo by Rawpixel.com from Pexels

Be the first to introduce yourself at events and work. Forthrightness can make a good first impression and make you the person that others want to follow up with themselves.

Have a good introduction practiced with enough flexibility to tailor it to any situation. Hand out business cards and follow up with contacts who seem promising.

18. Family Friends Can Be Business Contacts, Too

Friend introduced to colleague during casual meeting

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Talk to family friends about business from time to time so they are aware of the industry and projects your involved in. You can do this without making it a business conversation.

Friends sometimes happen to be interested in the same things, or friends of theirs could be doing something similar. If you never bring it up, those potential connections are unlikely to be realized.

Networking while balancing personal and work life can seem impossible at times, but you're not alone in feeling overwhelmed. Putting just a few of these strategies into practice can help you keep up with your business network despite the tight schedule of having both a professional and family life.

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