In my book Simple Meditation, I wrote “we are here on earth to learn to love and to help one another. Relationships are key.” I truly believe relationships are one of the most important aspects of life. Expanding your network of friends and contacts can bring more fun, ideas, and even romance into your life. Expanding your business contacts can also bring more money into your life.

Where to Network

So how do you go about expanding your network? As you may have guessed, you have to get out and meet more people. There are all sorts of places you could do just that. There are two articles that cover lots of potential places, with  25 networking places here, and 100 places here. If you don’t feel like sorting through all these, here are some of the most important places to network:

  • Local Chamber of Commerce Events – They have events specifically for business networking.
  • Meetups – Through com, you can find groups forming to discuss all sorts of subjects.
  • Conferences, Classes, and Retreats – Not only are these a great opportunity to learn, they’re an opportunity to meet others that are in related businesses or share your interests.
  • Trade Shows – These are geared for meeting people in your field, but be sure to follow up through email or social media.
  • Toastmasters – I’m a big fan of this public speaking organization and have served a variety of officer roles, including club president and area governor. At Toastmasters meetings, you get the opportunity deliver speeches on any topic you want, including your business. You also have the opportunity to meet lots of very nice people and learn about them through their speeches. At the same time, you’re developing skills and gaining confidence in speaking and leadership in a very supportive, non-threatening environment.
  • Religious Organizations, Clubs, and Sports Teams – Anywhere that people gather could be a potential place to meet contacts that could become friends, a romantic interest, or business connections. People you know can be a great source of referrals.

Attitude is Everything

When you’re focused on expanding your network, it’s important to keep your focus where it belongs, on building relationships and helping others. People like to do business with people they know and like, not someone that is constantly pushing their product.

This doesn’t mean you should completely avoid telling others about your service or product. There are plenty of times when it’s very appropriate to share the benefits of your business, like when people ask what you do, when they express a need you could fill, and when you’re at a networking meeting. That’s what people are there for. When these times come, you should be ready with something to say about your business. A well-crafted elevator speech (brief persuasive pitch) can come in handy. Here are some tips for creating your elevator speech. If the other person expresses interest in what you do, give them a business card or brochure that refers them to your website, where they can learn more about your business. You might also suggest getting together to share ideas.

Expanding your network is a wonderful way to bring in more business, and the relationships you build can truly enrich your life.