How Do Successful People Network?

See also: Top Tips for Effective Networking

One of the perennial questions of businesspeople is how to make contacts. It may sound trite, but it's a fact: People who know a lot of people tend to do more business. But what is their secret?

The answer is manifold. If there were one simple trick to the art of networking, everyone would get the guide and master it quickly. But business is a complex and challenging world. Therefore, you need to search your mind for the right approaches for you.

Difficult though it may be, there are some constants to the world of networking. And this principle holds across industries, geographical barriers, and languages. Business is international, after all, and people in this day and age are used to dealing with people that come from other environments. Let's take a look at a few of these unstated rules.

People networking

Putting yourself out there

This might sound like a no-brainer, but think about it carefully: Are you really making yourself known as much as you can?

There are numerous ways that you can meet new people. Obviously going on LinkedIn and racking up contacts is one of them, but being seen in person is even more important. Look up industry events that are happening in your area. Figure out where the places are that your target contacts tend to gather. This might require some work to get right, but you'll be glad you did in the end.

Most importantly, you'll need a way for people to remember you when they meet you. Check out business card mockups at and start thinking about what your ideal design would be. You want something that will stand out from the rest, and that will also represent you and your business as accurately as possible.

Be responsive

When you meet people - be it online or in person - you should always make an effort to follow up. Even if what you send them is just a friendly follow-up, it could potentially connect you to them and countless others that you might be able to do business with.

When you meet people, do a little research on them. What do you have in common? Do they have any professional or perhaps even personal interests that you might be able to relate to? Sometimes it only takes one minor connection - a common sports interest, music, travel, whatever - to make a genuine connection with a person.

You should also keep an eye out for ways that you can communicate with your new contacts in the future. Keeping a personal CRM is a good idea. Make it detailed, and keep notes about anything interesting that might strike you about you about people. If you come across an article or a video that they might like, send it along. Do this within reason, of course; you don't want to spam people to the point where they end up blocking you. But developing a sense of what is appealing and carefully assessing people's reactions is an important part of the game.

Potential business contacts

If you meet someone you think you might be able to do business with, you should definitely follow up right away. But don't just send a standard, uniform message every time. People like to be treated as individuals, so you should take the time to figure out what makes them unique.

This doesn't mean making proposals of marriage, but add a little something to your messages that will light a spark in your new contacts and make them want to respond. If they are potential business partners or clients, make an effort to speak to their specific business interests. Look through their websites or other social media and collect information on their business approaches. If you show that you share an angle or a particular business interest with people, they will respond.

Use your existing contacts

You also shouldn't be afraid to use the contacts that you already have. This includes business partners, friends, and even (when you think it is appropriate) family. Using contacts responsibly doesn't have to spell cronyism in its ugly forms.

In fact, using contacts in business networking can actually make a lot of sense. You keep the friends that you have for a reason: these are people that you know well, you know their strengths and weaknesses, and you know that you can trust them.

If you were simply trying to use a famous uncle for professional gain because he has a big name and you're not at all qualified for the job you want that he is connected to, that's one thing. Of course situations like this are unethical. But normal networking, getting your name out in a positive way and trying to expand your contacts is a perfectly normal thing. In fact, it is a necessary component of success.

Keep going!

Depending on the response you get, you should always make an effort to follow up in the future. Unless a person flat out blocks you - and they shouldn’t - there is no harm in following up in six months or a year, just to see how they are doing. If you did make a connection on the first try, that’s great! You can keep going.

But remember to craft your messages in such a way that makes sense. If you haven’t heard from someone in a year, be sure to remind them who you are and where you met when you reach out. Otherwise the person might take it the wrong way and think you are a stranger spamming them.

It’s all a fine art

Networking is a fine art that can take a lifetime to fully hone. If you are someone that is good at it and takes pleasure in meeting and growing your contacts, you will likely succeed at creating a large network. If it’s not something that comes naturally to you, you might have to work harder at it. But keep these points in mind, and get yourself some business cards!

About the Author

Ellie Yantsan is a digital marketer with more than 10 years of experience. She is a contributor to the Content Marketing Institute and is regularly quoted as an expert by large media outlets.