Monday 16 February 2015 8:05 pm

Three new ways you can improve your networks

To expand your contacts, you may have to refresh your tactics.

There are countless anecdotes that teach the importance of building a strong network. And whether you’re talking about old boys clubs or the ever expanding world of social media, the adage “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” has never been more true.
When people meet and conversations flow, so do business deals, career opportunities and investments. As venture capitalist and entrepreneur Rich Stromback once told Harvard Business Review’s Greg McKeown: “opportunities do not float like clouds in the sky. They are attached to people”.
Today, networking opportunities range from the light-touch and highly practical, take LinkedIn groups as an example, to highly tailored and targeted. At The Supper Club, for instance, we run 20 dinners a month for around eight small business owners, matched to curated topics that will maximise value for them. Both examples serve a purpose, but in each case, the aim is to “give and get” – to expand your circle of contacts and ultimately seek out new opportunities.
Networking doesn’t have to feel like a shameful exercise where you stand around awkwardly clutching a warming glass of cheap plonk. The right attitude can mean that one conversation will transform a career or a business. Here are a few alternative approaches that may encourage you to give it a go.


First, don’t just focus on making new connections. Go back to your contact book and get in touch with people you met over 12 months ago. You’ve already spent the time getting to know them but for whatever reason, they have dropped off your radar. 
They may have moved on to something new that is now relevant to you or, equally, you may now have more to offer them. People much prefer hearing from someone they know than receiving a cold call.


Secondly, be disciplined over logging everyone you meet. If you hear someone speak, or chat to someone over lunch, make an effort to remember details about them. 
Follow them on Twitter and even set up a Google Alert including their company name, so you have something relevant to talk to them about. If they win an award, or get a promotion, drop them a line to congratulate them. Be on the ball. It shows that you’re interested in them and it will certainly make sure that they remember you favourably.


Lastly, if you’re bored with going to the same events with the same faces, why not create something yourself? Even arranging something casual could result in building a wider network, and you will certainly benefit from being recognised as the organiser. 
 If you need inspiration, take some from “Silicon Drinkabout,” which started as a casual meetup for tech startups located around Shoreditch in 2011. A few years on, and it is a recognised brand in its own right, with regular fixtures at events, and a series of international outposts.
Jane Gomez is managing director of The Supper Club, a membership group for entrepreneurs.

Improve your intel

This app is a clever way to get the down-low on your future connections. It takes the legwork out of meeting prep by searching the web to find common ground with the people you meet. It’ll deliver insights about your contacts, pick up on mutual interests and important news. It’s a simple, handy way to get up to speed without having to spend hours scouring the internet.
After all, the chance of someone remembering you is much higher if you’ve made them feel valued.