With distrust of brands and advertising at all time highs, human to human connections and networks of people are more important than ever for B2B marketers. Finding the time to network is also a challenge as expectations of marketers to do more with less persists amongst the ongoing pandemic and rising inflation. So how can marketers create new professional connections that endure, and strengthen their existing business relationships?
With ostensibly more ways than ever to find new connections both online and off, the task can seem overwhelming.
Luckily, by making clear goals and putting a strategy in place to achieve them, marketers can start truly tapping into the power of building new connections and making them — along with existing ones — stand the test of time.
Let’s start right in on our journey of professional network expansion, and look at how we can take both current and newfound business relationships to new heights.
1 — Embrace New Connections in Old Familiar Places
To begin your journey of network reassessment and expansion, it can be helpful to ask yourself whether you’re taking full advantage of the opportunities to find new connections in the digital and real-world places you already frequent the most — your old familiar places.
Some B2B marketers make the mistake of only seeking out new business connections in new spots, while not fully taking advantage of connections that are right under their noses on old familiar ground, just waiting to be uncovered.
You may use one social media platform almost exclusively for personal activity, however by shifting your connection-making goals to include revisiting familiar spots, you’ll likely find a surprising number of new people to connect with on a professional level as well.
In the age of B2B influencer marketing, the lines between personal and professional relationships can sometimes become blurry, which when handled well is certainly a good thing, and such connections only tend to grow closer as time passes.
How To Make It Last:
Schedule time at regular interviews throughout the coming year to make contact with your new business connections. By scheduling at least a few outreach sessions with new connections, you give the relationship a real chance to grow over time, and create more changes for business opportunities to arise organically.“Schedule time at regular interviews throughout the coming year to make contact with your new connections. This gives the relationship a real chance to grow over time.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis Click To Tweet
2 — Seek Out New Opportunities in Fresh Spots
Where are the places you haven’t yet turned to when it comes to finding new connection opportunities? In 2022 you certainly don’t have to travel to Shangri-La or the moon to find new places to connect, as they’re more apt to be right in your own digital backyard.
Such new spots can include a mixture of digital and real-world locations:
- A conference you’ve never attended
- Local business events
- Local college event opportunities
- Volunteering and mentoring opportunities
- Speaking at events
- Conducting interviews, podcasts, and webinars
Each of these offer ample opportunities for making new connections. We recently examined how to get the most from B2B marketing events, in “In-Person, Virtual & Hybrid: How To Get The Most From B2B Marketing Events In 2022.”
Each has its own nuances in precisely how to reach out and make new connections, however some elements are more universal, and can be applied wherever you may find yourself looking to meet a new business connection, such as:
- Make your connection request personal and earnest
- Use background research on your connection to inform your request
- Seek out any mutual connections and if appropriate mention your shared contact
- Be mindful that not everyone will even look at connection requests on every platform
- Follow up new in-person connections with a message of thanks
There are of course nearly infinite ways to refine the process of making new connections, however by keeping some of the basics in mind, and asking yourself, “Is this a connection request I’d feel good about getting?”, your networking strategy can only become stronger.
How To Make It Last:
Use the knowledge your new connections have about the platform or event where you met. While the venues may be new to you, your newfound connections may be seasoned pros there. Ask your new connections in these new-to–you areas for their advice about the best ways to make use of those new spots.“In 2022 you certainly don’t have to travel to Shangri-La or the moon to find new places to connect, as they’re more apt to be right in your own digital backyard.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis Click To Tweet
3 — Ask Your Network “Who Do I Need To Know?”
There are likely professionals known to your associates who you might never get the chance to connect with, unless you specifically ask.
Master networkers are quite often the ones who regularly take advantage of this technique, and it may be one of the primary reasons they became top-notch networkers over time.
It can be as simple as posting a message on your favorite social media platform asking, “Who do I need to know?”
At in-person events, it’s wise to ask new connections you meet who they are most looking forward to hearing speak during the event, who they hope to meet, and why.
How To Make It Last:
Schedule time to ask this deceptively simple question regularly, whether it’s once a year or once a month. By making it an ongoing inquiry, you almost guarantee a continual array of fascinating new people to meet and forge new business relationships with.“Post a message on your favorite social media platform asking, 'Who do I need to know?'.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis Click To Tweet
4 — Grow Existing Connections in Newfound Ways
In some ways, expanding on your existing connections can provide the greatest opportunity to build long-lasting business relationships, as people you already know share a history with you, and are more likely to be open to new levels of engagement.
Some of the many ways to grow existing connections in new ways include:
- Asking about top pain points and challenges
- Seeking a quote for content
- Connecting with existing connections on new platforms
- Asking for business words of wisdom
- Take a digital connection to the in-person level by making event plans
How To Make It Last:
You likely already have a goldmine of existing connections, and can take these business relationships to new levels by expanding your interactions in creative ways, whether it’s through mutual interviews, podcasts, webinars, or making future in-person conference meeting plans.
bctt tweet=”“You likely already have a goldmine of existing connections, and can take these business relationships to new levels by expanding your interactions in creative ways.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]
5 — Put the Matchmaking Power of Your Network to Full Use
Be a business connection matchmaker, and make the effort to connect key professionals in your network with others you know who seem like a good fit.
This ties in nicely with our third tip of asking “Who should I know?” — and takes it to the next level by actively putting fellow professionals in touch with one another when you believe they may spark a powerful business conversation together.
Part of the power of B2B influencer marketing comes under this heading, as the sharing, co-collaboration, and support that industry subject matter experts provide for one another are proven ways to elevate business efforts for everyone involved.
How To Make It Last:
One of the greatest gifts a B2B marketer can give their fellow professional is an earnest introduction to someone they believe will be a perfect business match. Don’t be afraid to be a business connection matchmaker, as those you connect may end up building digital empires together — collaborations that may come back to benefit you and your business somewhere down the road.“One of the greatest gifts a B2B marketer can give their fellow professional is an earnest introduction to someone they believe will be a perfect business match.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis Click To Tweet
Enduring Business Relationships Elevate B2B Marketing Success
By embracing new connections in familiar places, seeking opportunity from new-to-you spots, asking “Who do I need to know?”, growing business relationships in new ways, and becoming a business connection matchmaker, you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes to putting the power of your network to full use.
Creating award-winning B2B marketing that elevates, gives voice to talent, and humanizes with authenticity takes considerable time and effort, which is why an increasing number of firms are choosing to work with a top digital marketing agency such as TopRank Marketing. Contact us to learn how we can help, as we’ve done for over 20 years for businesses ranging from LinkedIn, Dell and 3M to Adobe, Oracle, monday.com and others.