How to Build a Bigger (and Better) Business Network, According to Dr. Parwiz Daud
In the business world, it’s often said that who you know matters far more than what you know. A strong business network can prove key to unlocking valuable partnerships and opportunities that you might otherwise never have experienced.
Whether your goal is to advance your own career or grow sales for your business, a strong network can make all the difference. But building a large, successful network can often feel easier than done. Fortunately, networking is a skill that can be built upon and improved.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Dr. Parwiz Daud, CNO at Validus. During our conversation, he highlighted some key components of building a quality network that can help you achieve your desired outcomes.
Start With Your Current Connections
While the concept of building a business network can seem intimidating at first, Dr. Daud is quick to note that most entrepreneurs already have a network that they can use as a starting point.
“In reality, we are networking our entire lives,” he says.
“From friendships in your neighborhood to your relationships with employees, coworkers and others in the business community, you likely already have a larger network than you think. Quite often, these people have valuable knowledge or assistance they can provide to you. And even if they can’t help you directly, they can often introduce you to others within their own networks. All you have to do is ask.”
Research indicates that the average personal network includes 611 people. That said, the median number of contacts was found to be 472, meaning that there are “power players” who have vastly more personal contacts than the rest of the population. Regardless, simply reaching out to connections of your connections (or asking for referrals or introductions from your current connections) can be a powerful way to quickly grow your network.
Look for Opportunities to Share Your Skills and Knowledge
“We all have different skill sets,” Dr. Daud says.
“Some people are natural marketers and salespeople. Others are able to quickly analyze data for actionable insights. Regardless of what your specific skills and knowledge might be, your willingness to share them with others is key. Your willingness to lend a helping hand will deepen those connections that you are trying to form. Those in your network won’t view you as just another name in their contact list. They will view you as someone who has something of value to share – and they will be more inclined to reciprocate.”
The opportunities for sharing your industry knowledge and experience are seemingly endless. They can occur during workplace conversations or by sharing information through your social media profiles or through a company blog.
To succeed, you must share information that is valuable and relevant to the people you wish to connect with – but when you do, you can quickly build your industry authority and connect with other leaders in your niche. Seventy-seven percent of internet users read blog posts on a regular basis. As such, sharing quality content online can be a great way to start.
Be Active In Your Industry
Finally, you should look for opportunities to build a more active presence in your industry – and not just through sharing your own insights via a blog or social media post. “The internet has truly leveled the playing field for industry networking,” Dr. Daud says.
“Yes, in-person events such as conferences can still be incredibly valuable for meeting new people. But quite often, you can grow your network through online interactions. Digital groups and forums can often serve as a helpful way for connecting with others in your niche. Find the groups that are most relevant to you, introduce yourself and then become a regular participant. Be someone who listens, as well as offers advice. This helps you grow your network in a natural way that helps you foster more meaningful connections than if you tried to jump straight to a sales pitch.”
Another valuable aspect of these varied industry networking options is that they cater to the different personalities of entrepreneurs and others trying to grow their careers. Forty percent of people report that they find networking to be “hard to do,” despite recognizing its importance.
The wider range of opportunities now available helps level the playing field so you can be active in your industry, even if you are uncomfortable with certain aspects of networking.
For example, someone who feels anxiety regarding in-person networking events could thrive with online conversations. How you become active in your industry isn’t necessarily as important for growing your network as the fact that you are regularly engaging with others in your niche to build and strengthen relationships.
Networking to Achieve Your Goals
“Networking should never be viewed as a one-way street,” Dr. Daud explains.
“Ultimately, there will be some give and take – and you should be benefitting others just as much as you try to benefit from your network connections. When you focus on building meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships, you can ensure that your network will be a true asset for many years to come.”
By implementing these practices, you won’t just be able to maintain your current network – you will be able to continually grow it so you can unlock even more opportunities.