A comprehensive guide to networking – Part 2: Offline networking

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Welcome to the second half of our networking masterclass. In part one, we discussed how to develop an efficient online strategy. Now, we’ll focus on what you should do away from the computer.

The social media boom may have transformed the way we communicate, but mastering traditional forms of networking is still crucial for contractors. The age-old adage of “you never know who you might meet” still applies in today’s technology-driven society, so you may end up making new contacts the old-fashioned way you possibly wouldn’t meet online.

Offline networking also gives you the chance to make a lasting impression. Social media’s fast-paced nature means that you could end up getting lost in a sea of ever-updating statuses.

So how can you develop an effective way to network offline? Here are our top tips:

Get yourself out there

One of the most popular ways to network offline is to attend gatherings or events within your field of expertise. These are usually a hive of activity, and a great way to make new contacts.

Don’t forget that in most professional circles it could be a case of “it’s not what you know but who you know”, so it’s essential that you use offline events to build a wide range of contacts.

Don’t be a wallflower

Simply attending an event is not enough to build contacts, however, so it’s important to make yourself heard. Be sure to join in with conversations and build up a rapport.

Large-scale events and conferences are ideal for this, as you’ll most likely be sat at a table with other delegates. Introduce yourself from the outset and make sure you have a good supply of business cards just in case. Don’t keep it to your table though, try to speak to as many people as you can during lunch and coffee breaks.

Maintain the relationship

Once you’ve put in the initial legwork, don’t let it go to waste by losing touch with your new-found contacts. Granted, you may have to resort to social media to do this at first, but you should still be sure to meet for a catch up every so often.

Maintaining an offline relationship makes things a lot more personal and could put you in pole position if an opportunity pops up. After all, your contacts are much more likely to recommend somebody they have a real connection with.

As we’ve demonstrated, mastering online and offline networking is essential for contractors. No one method trumps the other so it’s important to become well-versed in both. If you’re successful, you could see a great number of opportunities come your way.

Have your say

Are you a contractor? How do you network offline? Join in the discussion on Twitter, or leave a comment below.