Use your personal contacts
The obvious place to start is your own address book. Sound out friends and family as well as business partners and colleagues. You are bound to know someone who is an expert in his field or job. Call them up and ask their opinion. Maybe they can put you in touch with someone useful or even introduce you to them. Hey presto, you have made a new contact without even trying.
Social media and professional networks
The idea behind XING and LinkedIn was to create a social network for professionals to keep in touch with existing business contacts and make new ones. To maximize your presence, you should create a profile for yourself on both networks. Add contacts that you know or send requests to new contacts. On both XING and LinkedIn there are numerous specialist groups you can join. Here you can highlight your expertise and share your knowledge with others. This will lead to exchanges with contacts who can help you.
Take part in events and seminars
By attending events or seminars, you will quickly be able to make new contacts amongst the other attendees. It is pretty much the most straightforward way to network. Make sure you use breaks between sessions to talk to other people and exchange details on XING or LinkedIn, or the old-fashioned way with a business card.
Join a networking group
There are dedicated networking groups for business people to join that meet every week. An example is BNI (Business Network International). The concept has been imported from America and adopted in many European countries. A lot of cities have founded their own local chapters (business teams). BNI’s aim is to facilitate networking between business people. The members of the chapter decide how they can help others in accordance with the motto ‘you give, you win’. In this way, it is possible for companies to generate additional sales that they would never have had without BNI. Joining a BNI chapter in your region can therefore secure you valuable contacts.
Take part in business round tables
Some cities and towns offer regular business round tables at which you will have the opportunity to exchange views with colleagues in your industry. Here, you will not just receive input from others, you can also share your own experiences and insights. Business round tables are a good way of making contacts in your local region.
Take part in an after-work event
After-work events are ideal for networking and meeting other people in your area. XING offers regular after-work parties in various cities. As the name says, these involve meeting others over food and drink after work. The dress code is ‘business casual’ and the atmosphere is relaxed. What better way to get to know other people?