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Few professionals can speak to the power of networking quite like entrepreneurs and freelancers can. That’s why I was so thankful to find a solo-preneur with a plethora of down-to-earth networking tips. A self-made blogger, author, influencer and speaker – Nicolas Cole often shares his tips for making valuable connections on his blog and across various publications. Here are some of my favorite lessons learned for his articles:

Network with Influencers:

Even if you’re just starting out, don’t be afraid to reach out to professionals that you admire (just like I did here). Nicolas suggests contacting thought leaders and influencers that you look up to and to try and build relationships with them. Don’t be discouraged by big names, as Nicolas puts it “Influencers are human just like you and I.”

Keep tabs of who you’ve reached out to, what you spoke about, and the medium you used to contact them in a Personal CRM like UpHabit. You can also set a reminder to reconnect with that person at a later date to continue building your relationship.

Find more great tips like this in the article “4 keys to building an audience online through writing and thought leadership”.

“Real Networking Happens When a Friend Introduces a Friend”*

The first article I ever read by Nicolas was “7 Best Practices for Networking That Actually Work” and I think it may be my favorite. Growing up, friends are often the first people we turn to for advice. When it comes to professional networking, Nicolas suggests going back to your grade-school days and thinking of every new person you meet as an opportunity to make a new friend. Being genuinely curious and intently listening to what others have to say will help you develop more of a trust-based bond with your contact, than traditional networking that aims to serve your interests alone. As Nicolas puts it “If something comes back to me as a result of it, great. If not, doesn’t matter. We’re friends.

Personally, I love this approach. If nothing else, it’s always helpful to make friends and get to know people in your industry. As an added bonus, Nicolas mentioned further down the article that even if that new person you meet can’t help you, they may be able to introduce you to someone who can.

* I actually took this title from a line in another one of Nicolas’ articles, which I also recommend.

Nurture Your Relationships:

It’s no secret that building a strong relationship takes time and effort. Real connections are built by maintaining contact with people you care about ‘just because’ – and not just when you need something. As Nicolas puts it, “you can’t ignore someone for months and then reach out and ask them for a favor.” As mentioned above, the best business relationships often develop out of friendships, and strong friendships need to be nurtured.

Try setting reminders to periodically check up on important contact to see how they’re doing –  especially when you don’t need something in return. You can easily do this in your Personal CRM. Make sure your follow up is genuine and smooth by using the Notes feature to keep a record of the last things you spoke about with your contacts.

The article  “7 Crucial Lessons About Networking Most People Never Learn” is truly a gem and can serve as a guidebook for building lasting and genuine relationships.

Aim to Be Helpful:

Another great lesson from the article above is to “give more than you take”. Whether it’s in the form of your time, assistance or sharing connections, whenever you help someone you’re taking a big leap towards building trust and creating a strong relationship. Friends help each other out, and will often remember you kindly for your actions – and there’s nothing that will help you build a stronger network than that.

Have more down-to-earth networking tips you’d like to share with? Let us know in the comments!

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