In our previous post, we discussed why it can be both important and mutually-beneficial to develop friends and partnerships within your industry. 2016 is the year to take your business, and by extension your professional success as a whole, to a higher level. It never hurts to have someone you can turn to for advice, strategic information, and fresh insights into the inner workings and future trends of your industry. If you haven’t done so before now, this is the year to build strong, meaningful relationships that can give a powerful boost to your business.

How Do You Meet People?

It’s understandable that if you don’t have many industry friendships or partnerships already, or if you feel completely isolated from others in the same business as you, you may not know where to start meeting other people within your industry. While industry friendships and partnerships certainly don’t have to be as close or as meaningful as a lifelong friend you’ve known since childhood, many of the same platforms and venues that we utilize to meet new people for personal relationships, such as bars, restaurants, and the Internet, can be used to make new industry friends and partnerships.

Meeting In Person

When it comes to connecting and forming relationships with members of your industry, there is simply no substitute to attending industry events such as seminars and trade shows. In fact, those events simply wouldn’t exist if they didn’t attract a large and diverse audience of attendees, vendors, speakers, and purchasers. As we previously discussed on this blog, when attending an industry event, every effort should be made to spend as much of your time at the actual event and within close proximity of other attendees. Stay at the same hotel as the event, and make every effort to mingle with attendees before and after the show at the closest restaurant or bar. If you do not consume alcohol or have stopped doing so, don’t feel pressured to drink or even mingle in a bar. Instead, you can plan on redoubling your efforts during the event and politely decline bar invitations, instead offering to substitute a breakfast, lunch, or dinner meeting instead.

Keeping Track Of Business Cards

Be sure to carry enough business cards to hand out to other attendees, and have a system in place for scanning cards with your phone or organizing them in a manner that will allow you to add personal notes. Smartphone business card apps such as CamCard are an excellent way of recording and keeping track of the business cards you receive. Business cards are important for not only keeping track of people’s names and contact information, but also for remembering who they are and where you met them.

Meeting Online

If you do not have the means or opportunities in your schedule to attend industry events, or if you prefer building relationships online, there are still plenty of opportunities to develop industry friendships and partnerships. LinkedIn professional communities are an excellent platform for meeting others in your industry and building relationships. Similar to Facebook Groups and other singular Internet message boards, LinkedIn communities are often formed around industries and industry groups, where members can share information and provide other means of support. Just like other online communities, it can be a bit tough initially to understand how the community operates and what is considered acceptable and unacceptable behavior, so plan on “lurking” or reading posts without responding for some time, and when you do start posting, try to be as open and helpful as possible while positively responding to constructive criticism. In no time you’ll be well on your way to developing and nurturing valuable industry friendships and relationships that will greatly benefit you and your business.