Business Networking is about taking small steps, every day. Growing a great network takes time, but then you can harvest the results. This article is about 5 steps that you can take every day to grow your network, so that you can have a bumper harvest.

The other day I listened to a discussion about business networking and two things struck me. One was about what the presenter said; the other about the poster beside them!

  • Networking is about developing relationships, so that you can use them for mutual benefit.
  • You should eat 5 fruit and vegetables a day, to keep yourself healthy.

Business Networking IS relationships

I remember at my first ever networking event (once I got over my nerves and actually went into the room) being told that networking is about “givers gain”. I wasn’t entirely sure what they meant, but this became clear later. If you are going to get somebody else to help you, help them first was my first interpretation.

Later I realised some networking relationships that are far more important than others. Some people will know more of your target clients than others do (this does, of course, imply that you have a target client). These people are worth getting to know, and from those relationships come results. You could even call them your A-listers.

Networking 5 a day

So, the thing with our health (yes, I do get nagged about it) is to have at least 5 fruit / vegetables every day. Ideally they should be of different colours, according the rest of that poster. So I keep a count and make myself eat my five a day (despite not always feeling like them). Yes I am feeling healthier; which is just as well, would you want Heather  nagging you?

Your business networking 5 day

Try this diet for the next couple of weeks and see if it helps, let me know how you get on…

  1. LinkedIn: Initiate two target discussions. You could use endorsements, recommendations, their status updates or something they’ve said in a group. If they’re in your target, send a comment to them – no selling (did you read 3 mistakes people make on social media?) Your aim is to get a discussion going. You could go even further and take our 9 minute a day LinkedIn challenge (click to read it).
  2. Pick up the phone: Now here’s something scarily old fashioned. Who do you know that you’ve been talking to recently, that you could take the relationship offline? You might just ask how they’re doing, you might comment on a recent article/ status update, you might even arrange a one to one (if they’re in your target market).
  3. Google+: If you’re not yet using it, click here to read how-to-start-using-googleplus. But use it for a quick conversation starter, by commenting on somebodies article and using the +FirstName Lastname in your comment. While you’re there, post one of your own recent articles. This is even easiest if your targets are all in a circle (click for strategic circles).
  4. RT: Pick a couple of targets and retweet one of their tweets. This makes it easier to later get into discussion with them, and only takes a couple of minutes.
  5. Email: Drop a note to somebody that’s on your A-List, specially if they’re not normally on Social Media. Ask how they are, start a discussion

So, there’s my 5 a day. Eating them takes about 10 minutes. What do you think, how will they help make your network healthier?

Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Networking is a key part of getting great results in small firms. If you want great networking tips sent to your desk once a month, click here and I will start sending them to you, so you can make a real difference to your referrals.