This modern world has made so many things easier. Our favorite movies and television shows are available in our homes 24/7, personal messages can be sent around the globe with the click of a button, and cars drive themselves.
It makes sense, then, that business networking would also get a digital boost. This guide will look at the nature of networking, as well as some of the best apps to help you assemble the best people for the best results.
Why Do We Network?
Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey. You enjoy the thrill of succeeding on your own terms but bear the burdens without the support systems inherent to the corporate world. You create your own schedule but sometimes find yourself misaligned with everyone else’s schedules.
To be an entrepreneur is to be an explorer. It can be a solo slog through rough territory, but the glory of the pursuit is real. You didn’t get into this line of work because you crave things like water cooler chats and office holiday parties. You’ve got loftier goals to achieve.
But this doesn’t mean that you should be a hermit. The best entrepreneurs know how to interact with others and leverage those connections to the fullest extent. They understand the value of chats, even if they’re conducted through an app instead of an in-person event.
There’s an interesting dichotomy between an entrepreneur’s fierce individuality and dependency on others. Yes, entrepreneurs blaze their own path. But they also draw upon the strength of others.
That’s how symbiosis works. You have 2 or more individuals who support one another. Their interdependence isn’t a sign of weakness—it’s an acknowledgment that they each possess traits and abilities so distinct that another individual’s success is reliant upon them.
Yes, entrepreneurs blaze their own path. But they also draw upon the strength of others.
There’s an old story about teamwork that sums up the ability of unified entrepreneurs to accomplish great things. As the story goes, someone came up with the golden idea that every person on earth would shout out loud at the same moment. The thought was that if everyone joined voices simultaneously, the result would be awe-inspiring. There’d never before been a time when the global population had done something in such a unified way.
Updates were sent out to every city in every country, instructing people on the exact moment they should shout. Anticipation built as the day approached. Some wondered if the collective sound would be so magnificent that it would shake buildings.
But on the morning of the event, people began to discuss whether they’d be able to hear the sound if they were themselves shouting at the top of their lungs. To truly appreciate the moment, one would need to close their mouth and listen. This sentiment spread like wildfire.
So the moment arrived and no shouts were heard. Instead, people sat around and listened, assuming that everyone else would carry on with the plan. Selfishness had ruled and the moment of global noise wasn’t even a whimper.
This phenomenon occurs every day in the business world, as people sit back and expect to benefit as others do great things. There aren’t nearly as many action-takers as there are action-watchers.
But entrepreneurs have always been a different breed. So while everyone else is listening, they join with a chosen few and shout at the top of their lungs. And when you’re one of the people making the noise, you get to choose what it sounds like. You’re more like a conductor, opposed to an audience member.
Connecting with the Right People
So how do you find the entrepreneurs who will join you in changing the world? Some are already in your life, so you’ll just need to identify them rather than find them.
Perhaps you have a friend with an impressive array of skills and connections. Or a former classmate or coworker who shares your vision. And don’t be surprised if there are kindred spirits among your family members.
Where your connections come from is less relevant than what they offer you and what you can offer them in return. Remember, you’re looking for symbiotic relationships where you make each other stronger and more effective.
Attending networking events is a great way to find previously unknown connections. Be judicious with any event you go to, asking whether it is relevant enough to justify the effort. When you choose your events properly, the odds of bolstering your network are high. At less worthwhile events, you simply won’t meet enough of the right people. You’re better off going to San Diego Comic-Con (or any other event that is undeniably fun but unrelated to your purpose).
Tapping into the Best Business Networking Apps
When it comes to business networking online, LinkedIn is still king. If you aren’t involved with it, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to meet fellow entrepreneurs and other contacts who can help you reach your goals.
Check out these statistics that highlight the greatness of LinkedIn:
- 73% of social media users agree that LinkedIn protects their privacy (the highest percentage of any social network in the United States)
- 722 million people have a LinkedIn account, making it the largest business-focused social network
- 55% more conversations occurred among connections in 2020 than 2019
- 80% of members on LinkedIn help “drive business decisions”
- 61 million members are senior-level decision-makers within their organizations
To leverage the opportunities on LinkedIn, you need to get involved on the platform. Remember, the world is full of observers. Your calling is to be a doer. And LinkedIn directly rewards those who speak their minds and participate in meaningful dialogue.
As Jesse Sumrak explains:
LinkedIn wants to see you engaging with the platform. If a salesperson or recruiter uses InMail credits to send you a message, LinkedIn wants to see your answer—even if the answer is “no.” […] If someone sends you a connection invite, don’t let it sit unanswered in your “My Network” tab. “Ignore” or “Accept” it. When you engage with the community on LinkedIn, LinkedIn boosts your profile. You now get more reach, more connection exposure, and more profile visits. Don’t believe us? Try it for yourself. Post consistently on LinkedIn every day for a month. Finish each day at inbox zero—no unanswered invites, no unanswered messages. Watch your LinkedIn performance head up and to the right.
This same principle of action applies to all the major business networking apps. If you want to get results, get involved. Let’s look at 8 of the most beneficial places to invest your time and efforts.
This popular platform was launched in 2018. With a focus on privacy, it allows you to connect with others without risking data security. Guild makes it easy to send direct messages, join up with established business communities, or better yet, create your own group.
This app has impressive compatibility, so it doesn’t matter if you use iOS, Android, or something else. So if you’re on an archaic phone, this is one of your best bets. With its chat room setup, GroupMe is ideal for ongoing conversations about business topics.
Geared toward business events, Bizzabo allows you to organize conferences, webinars, and other online gatherings. Networking happens before, during, and after the event via the messaging system built into the app.
Connecting with others within your industry is the essence of Fishbowl. Each community, referred to here as a “bowl,” is dedicated to industries and topics. Within this app, you can start up a dialogue with a wide array of individuals to build your network.
One of the newest networking apps on the block, Clubhouse differs from most by featuring audio conversations. Presenters share their thoughts on various topics, and you can message other listeners in attendance. This hybrid approach makes for a lively experience.
This app veers into dating territory with its unique model—you create a profile and then get matched up with other professionals for private video chats. It’s an AI-driven approach that aims to help you connect with industry professionals more efficiently.
Here’s another dating-style app that brings a little personality to the networking game. Shapr recommends a batch of professionals each day and you swipe right if you want to connect. When both individuals swipe right, you’re connected through the app and have a good chance of a lasting relationship based on the mutual swiping.
This app serves as a safe space for professionals to speak candidly about their work lives. As the name implies, anonymity is assured and conversations are encrypted so that no one needs to worry about reprisals from coworkers. While Blind isn’t a traditional networking app that will introduce you to individuals by name, it’s a helpful tool if you want to learn more about other businesses and gather industry intel.
What? Slack, you say? Isn’t that tool about hassling fellow team members to complete that project and send GIFs on Friday afternoons? Yes. But Slack is also an app that fellow professionals can connect with niche channels.
More than 100,000 organizations use Slack, meaning if you want to connect with a professional, they probably are already using the tool. So, instead of swapping to another tool, like-minded professionals can create Slack channels within the app network. That way, you can seamlessly switch from a work conversation to a thread with your ecommerce founder Slack channel discussing the latest AI tools.
Find a Slack channel to start networking via Slack communities.
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