At first, I didn’t think it was worthwhile to build friendships with other business owners. Boy, was I wrong.
After forming relationships, I quickly understood how beneficial it is for personal and professional growth. The very best business referrals come from people you know.
Many of the awesome movers and shakers I’ve met over time are now close friends. I rely on them for advice and they inspire me to reach greater heights.
If you’re looking to grow your crew of business friends, here’s how I did it:
I Became a Groupie
I’ll be honest; I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook groups. However, I can’t deny that they are a good way to meet new people.
Some Facebook groups are ridiculously helpful. Other groups are filled with spam, self-promotion overkill, and irrelevant posts that clog up your feed and are a complete waste of time.
I’ve had the most luck making meaningful relationships in small industry or niche specific groups instead of the groups for general marketing, blogging, and business tips.
In larger groups, it’s harder to gain personal connections or find information that’s relevant to you because everyone’s making random status updates in a desperate attempt to get noticed.
Now I only actively engage in small groups that are for personal finance bloggers, fintech entrepreneurs, and financial advisors. I have the most in common with these people and commonalities are how lasting friendships are born.
The relationship with my very best business buddy sparked when she messaged me one day after seeing me in a group. She simply said, “You seem cool.” The rest is history.
Take Relationships Beyond the Keyboard
I may ruffle a few feathers by saying this, but I believe that the most valuable relationships are solidified when you meet in person. An extra level of trust forms when you see each other face to face.
Use online as an icebreaker and then build deeper relationships by meeting up for drinks, events, or conferences.
I Give Instead of Take
Business peers can be easier to connect with than thought leaders. My strategy has always been to show support and to offer skills to experts in a non-creepy way without expecting anything in return.
At the end of the day, people who you look up to are just that — people.
Good help is hard to find so you can make your mark by being useful. One specific area where I’ve been able to stand out is keeping my word whenever I offer to help.
I’ve encountered several industry authorities who say that people pitch an idea or make a promise and then never come through. Be the person who’s reliable. It’s simple, but effective.
Have Fun With It
Building relationships or networking (whatever you like to call it) doesn’t have to feel like work. Friendships come about when you’re being yourself and doing what you can to support others.
At this point, I can’t even imagine navigating the ups and downs of running a business without these friends in my corner.