Some entrepreneurs aren’t crazy about the term networking.
Others have built entire businesses around it.
Whatever your feelings are towards the term itself – whether you call it building relationships, networking, or something else – it’s critical to the success of your business in addition to your personal growth.
Building relationships and networking
Yep – it’s really that important.
In the last post we talked about ways you can niche, and knowing your niche plays a pretty critical role in this stage of the game: the more precise your niche focus, the more effective you’ll be in finding the right connections.
Think of it this way: if it was your first day of college and you declared your major to be Latin American Studies, then you wouldn’t spend your time joining a group of students who are meeting on a weekly basis to talk about Sports Medicine, right?
Knowing your niche is like declaring your major: it is what will help you focus in on where you should be hanging out in order to start building relationships and networking with others in your industry or niche who you can help support (and who can help support you) on your journey.
This was such an integral step for John on his journey to creating EOFire because it was through the initial relationships he built, and the networking he did, that allowed him to launch the podcast with not just any all-star lineup, but with an all-star lineup that was pumped to help spread EOFire’s message and to share their episode with their own audience.
Why were John’s guests so pumped?
Because, John is a genuine guy who truly cares about others.
Not once did John introduce himself and take; instead, every time John introduced himself, he gave. This is how you build strong relationships: you care about what other people care about.
The momentum that was built up for EntrepreneurOnFire through these early interviews is the foundation for our success.
Today, EOFire gets over 1 million listens every single month: that’s nearly 35,000 listens every single day, all thanks to the relationships John built when he was first starting out.
In addition, the relationships that John and I both continue to build every single day – whether it’s in online communities we’re a part of, in our own mastermind groups, or while at conferences and meet ups – these are the relationships that have helped us create an incredible community of raving fans who know, like and trust us.
On that note:
“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” ~ Zig Ziglar
Ready to find out the top ways you can start building relationships and networking?
Let’s take a look…
5 Ways to start building relationships & networking
1. Join a free online group or community
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter – these platforms all have more than just social media in common: they give you the opportunity to connect with like-minded people via “Groups” and “Communities”.
Start by doing some research!
Just type into the search bar in any of these social sites keywords for your industry or niche.
If I was looking to connect with other entrepreneurs, then I’d start by typing in “entrepreneur groups”.
A search for “entrepreneur groups” is going to yield A LOT of results.
So next, you’ll want to narrow the search.
Choose 1 or 2 groups or communities you want to join to ensure you have the time to be an active member.
Building relationships takes time, so be ready to invest about 30 minutes – 1 hour per day (or more when you first join) to be an active member.
My motto: You will get back what you put in.
2. Join a paid mastermind
Look to those who you already follow within your industry or niche for recommendations.
Reach out and ask if they know of any paid mastermind groups that might be the right fit for you.
If you’re having trouble finding a paid mastermind, then ask around in the free online groups you’re a part of.
Why go the paid route when there are options out there for free?
Free groups are a great place to start, but at some point you’ll want to be surrounded by those who have invested in themselves and their businesses.
With a free mastermind, there may be members who aren’t willing to fully commit because there is no monetary value on the line.
Also, paid groups are going to naturally put you in front of a higher caliber group of people, which in turn will open up opportunities for you to meet and engage with the top leaders in your industry or niche.
Fire Nation Elite is our paid mastermind here at EOFire, where members pay $597 a quarter to be a part of an amazing group of inspiring and motivated entrepreneurs who are making things happen.
In addition to the live Webinars we host every month with today’s top entrepreneurs, the interaction, support, and success that comes out of this group of 100 Elites is INCREDIBLE!
3. Attend conferences
Conferences are becoming more about the relationship and networking opportunities than anything else. You already know the people there are interested in the same things as you – at least on some levels – plus you get to spend quality time really getting to know them over several days.
Quick tip: It’s always a good idea to reach out to other attendees ahead of time who you’d like to get to know better so that you can schedule time to meet up during the conference.
Conferences are also your opportunity to put yourself in front of people you might not be able to reach otherwise, like speakers and conference organizers. Make an effort to attend the sessions of those speakers you want to connect with and introduce yourself afterwards.
I know that conferences and travel aren’t cheap, so you’ll want to sit down and decide which conference is most important in relation to your business goals – both in content and participants.
4. Participate in local meet ups
Join community email lists, sign up for alerts online, and keep your eyes and ears open on social media! Even if you don’t know a ton of people in your city, chances are there is an organization or group who puts together local events and mixers for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Meetup.com is a great place to start!
5. Reach out!
What ever happened to simply reaching out and introducing yourself?
- Frequent blogs / websites of those in your industry or niche;
- Join the conversation on social media; and
- Send a good old email every once in a while!
If you’re a big fan of someone in particular – or if you’re looking to learn from someone who has been in your industry for longer than you – then reach out and introduce yourself in order to start building that relationship.
Join the conversation on their blog, send them a Tweet, or interact with their email newsletter next time it comes around. These are all great ways to break the ice and start building a relationship.
Whatever you do, don’t be the one to end the conversation.
Don’t be a one-and-done type of person. If you’re going to follow someone’s blog, then really follow their blog.
If you leave a comment on someone’s Facebook post, then check back so you can continue the conversation.
Staying in touch and continuing to care about what other people care about is what is really going to help you in building strong relationships.
As John Maxwell says:
“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.”
Yes, sometimes you’re going to be put in situations that are incredibly uncomfortable. You might have the opportunity to introduce yourself to someone who has inspired you to start your journey in the first place; or better yet, to someone who you follow every day and look up to as a mentor.
Think back to our very first chapter in this book, when we first started piecing together your roadmap. There are going to be several times on your journey when embracing fear will be the difference between you moving forward, or not.
Choose to move forward by embracing fear and taking advantage of the opportunities you have to build relationships. Strong relationships might be just the spark you need to IGNITE your online business!
This post wraps the first section of The Fire Path, which focuses on the creation of your business. In the next post, we’re going to dive into strategies that can help you grow your business.
First up: How to start creating your platform.