7 tips for contractor networking in 2022
Networking has changed a lot over the years. While face-to-face networking is still an incredibly important aspect of relationship-building for your business, there are so many online options now that enable you to spread the reach of your contractor business far and wide, not just within your local circle.
So, what are the best ways to network in 2022? The Kingsbridge team have pulled together seven of the best tips to make sure you’re getting yourself in front of the right people.
1. Make the most of online networking
Pre-pandemic, online networking was seen as a bit of a poor relation to face-to-face networking but, during lockdown, contractors and other business owners were forced to embrace online networking as it was the only way to continue growing a business when it was impossible to meet up physically.
While many different forms of online networking emerged, the old favourite that is LinkedIn proved itself to be the frontrunner, with many taking on board advice to make the most of their account, even listing themselves on LinkedIn Services to showcase their business. LinkedIn (and other online networking) allows you to really extend your reach without having to fork out for travel or advertising costs, so it really should be made the most of.
2. Add clients to LinkedIn
So many of us are guilty of having a great LinkedIn profile but not actively adding people we know to our network. Take some time one week to add current and previous clients to your LinkedIn network, as well as other people you have a good working relationship with. This has a few big advantages:
- It puts you in view of those people in case they want to make you a repeat client
- When they like or comment on your posts, they will display in their networks expanding your reach even further
- It allows them to tag you in opportunities and recommend you to others
- It gives you a relevant, engaged audience base for any content that you post
3. Join online forums
Forums aren’t as ‘trendy’ as they used to be, having been replaced in some instances by the likes of Facebook and LinkedIn groups. However, there are still lots of great ones out there.
- You can join contractor forums that are specifically aimed at the self-employed. These tend to be centred around asking for and giving advice, as well as skill-swapping.
- You can also join forums aimed at your industry sector, where you can respond to posts in a way that positions you as an expert in your field.
Both are great to expand your network and help to boost your business. It’s worth having a read of a few as a guest, before committing to joining, so that you can find ones where you feel comfortable.
4. Go local
It’s important not to forget face-to-face networking events altogether – and there are some fantastic events going on all the time in your local area. Organisations such as the BNI are still going strong and, whilst they do incur a membership fee, they provide breakfast events that allow you to build a strong local network over coffee and pastries. It’s also worth taking a look at informal events in your area, usually held in a local event or co-working space and hosted by local business owners or professional organisations. They’re a great opportunity to build your contractor network and meet potential clients and collaborators. Just remember to get some business cards printed in advance.
5. Make friends with other contractors
It might seem like an odd suggestion to make friends with your direct competition, but this isn’t some ‘keep your friends close but your enemies closer’ schtick. Ever had to turn down work because you’re just too busy? You’re not the only contractor that that’s ever happened to.
When you have to turn down work, it’s always good to have someone to recommend to the client and if you build strong, positive relationships with other contractors in your industry, it means you’ll have people who may well recommend you when they have to turn down a job. It will also give you people you can turn to if you find yourself needing to supply a substitute to carry out work on a contract.
6. Ask for reviews
Most people look at reviews and testimonials before purchasing a service – the contractor supply chain is no different. Any hiring manager looking to engage your services will check out what others have to say. You should always ask your clients to review your services when you’ve completed work for them and, if you haven’t been doing this already, you should contact previous clients to see if they would like to recommend you. You could use Google Reviews (these will show when you appear in search results) or LinkedIn Recommendations (these will appear on your LinkedIn profile and/or Services page). Think about where most of your clients tend to find you, that will be the best place to collect reviews.
7. Build genuine relationships
Good networking is always about long-term investment in relationships, never a short-term sell. If you meet someone and right off the bat go in for the hard sell, it can be really off-putting. Instead, focus on building a genuine relationship and don’t expect anything of the other person. Treat them as a human, not a sales target, and you’ll find that over time your business benefits more from the relationship than it would otherwise. You may just make a friend in the process.