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  • 17 Ways to Strengthen Your Personal Brand Through Networking

    What is one simple thing I can do to expand my network this year?

    The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

    Raymond Kishk1. Connect Right After Meeting

    You would be surprised how many different types of people you meet each day. So many of them you meet only once. I find that it’s important to connect with them on social media right after you meet them so you give yourself the opportunity to stay in touch and build the relationship.   – Raymond KishkInterstate Air Conditioning & Heating

    Andrew Namminga (1)2. Try Meetup.com

    Find a local entrepreneur, startup, tech or whatever kind of group on Meetup.com and go meet some like-minded individuals in your area. Nothing beats face-to-face interaction.   – Andrew NammingaAndesign

    syed Balkhi3. Make Intros

    The best way to expand your network is by introducing people in your network with each other. You will quickly realize not only does this help you improve your relationship with existing folks in your network, but the reciprocity factor of introductions will help you grow your network a lot faster.   – Syed BalkhiOptinMonster

    Mark Cenicola4. Team up With a Networking Buddy

    Find someone with whom you enjoy spending professional time and keep in touch regularly. A simple exchange of emails early in the week to share networking calendars with someone who actively networks can provide event opportunities and introduce you to people you wouldn’t have expected. Plus, when you network at the same event, you can work the room and make mutual introductions.   – Mark CenicolaBannerView.com

    Trevor Summers5. Befriend Your Competitors

    Many of my most treasured contacts are those who have been working with competitors. They are facing similar challenges, and you would be surprised what you are both willing to share once you let down you competitive veil.   – Trevor Sumner,LocalVox

    Drew Hendricks6. Actively Use Professional Social Networks

    Just because you are on social networks like LinkedIn doesn’t mean your network will just grow automatically. You need to search for industry colleagues or other people that may help you with your professional objectives. Then, you need to contact them and connect online or offline through events. Communication is the key to expanding a network, so even commenting on other’s posts helps.   – Drew HendricksButtercup

    Adam Steele7. Cold Call Social Media

    One of the greatest things about social media is how well it allows you access to just about anyone. If I want to talk to the biggest people in any industry, there’s a pretty good chance that they, or someone who answers to them, is wandering around Twitter. Take advantage of the ease of access to the greatest minds of today by engaging them. The worst they can do is ignore you.   – Adam SteeleThe Magistrate

    Darrah Brustein8. Reconnect and Ask

    I make it a habit to reach out to at least one person each day with whom I’ve not spoken in some time. Best, I ask how I can help and be a resource to them in some way or ask them to set up a meeting or call to catch up. When people trust you and you give first without expectation of something in return, it’s natural and warranted to ask your contact to connect you with someone in their network.   – Darrah BrusteinNetwork Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids

    Kayla Wagner9. Volunteer

    Volunteering for organizations or events in your industry is a surefire way to make valuable connections in your space. Whether it’s helping put on one event, or sitting on a year-long board, you’ll meet new people and have more in-depth conversations and contacts than you might by just attending an event here and there.   – Kayla Wagner FairesRevel Interactive

    Brandon Stapper10. Never Eat Alone

    I read a great book called “Never Eat Alone.” It touches on the fact that since you are going to eat lunch every day, you might as well join someone to eat with! I have lunch lined up with entrepreneurs every day. It builds close relationships and you can share resources. I have learned a tremendous amount from doing this and I’ve made amazing friends and business associates.    – Brandon Stapper858 Graphics

    Jayna Cooke11. Download Rapportive

    Rapportive is a free Chrome extension that links to your email and also connects with LinkedIn. This way, you can build strategic relationships with prospects and new people right from your inbox and, in turn, build your network faster and more efficiently.    – Jayna CookeEVENTup

    Brittany Hodak12. Join a Professional Organization

    Professional organizations exist for practically everything. Whether you’re looking to meet people by trade, age or location, a quick Google search should provide several options in your area or nationwide. The best communities integrate both in-person and online events to help foster collaboration and communication on multiple levels.   – Brittany HodakZinePak

    Matt Doyle13. Attend Functions

    The last two years were really the first time I attempted to go to local events for people in my industry. I made a point of attending meet and greets, trade shows, conventions and anything else that was available on my limited schedule. It was draining at times, but I’ve never in my years in business been able to pick up so many juicy contacts so quickly. You meet very engaged people at these events.   – Matt DoyleExcel Builders

    jeff epstein14. Give Before You Get

    The best way to connect with people who perhaps wouldn’t normally connect with you is by giving. Give them time, or volunteer to help them or a cause they are associated with. You’ll feel good (about yourself), make a difference and build your network!   – Jeff EpsteinAmbassador

    Shalyn Dever15. Join a Business Chamber Outside of Your City

    Most entrepreneurs join their local chamber to grow their network. Expand your network by joining a neighboring city’s chamber or one focused on a specific group of people. Share your time and expertise with multiple chambers through speaking events, panels and workshops to spread your name and business services to new people.   – Shalyn DeverChatter Buzz

    Blake Miller16. Join a Coworking Community

    Join a coworking space with a strong community network. A strong community will have events — such as meetups, educational programs and happy hours — that bring people together and also help you network, market and expand your business.   – Blake MillerThink Big Partners

    Mickey Meyer17. Offer to Buy Your Contact Lunch

    Most people shrug off emails/calls from unknowns, but there’s a pocket of folks who don’t, and who are looking for the same thing. Look at what you need professionally and find the names of the people who are succeeding (through lists like Forbes 30 Under 30, or from trades), and just reach out and offer to buy them lunch. This has worked extremely well for me.   – Mickey MeyerJASH

    Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.

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