Whether you’re a restaurant owner or event planner, knowing your product well is a starting point for your business. However, expanding your network can be a challenging task.
Networking within the hospitality industry is a unique chance to connect with like-minded people and to enrich your industry knowledge. As the industry evolves, the ways you can connect with people shift as well.
Here are eight little-known tips and tricks to help you network with industry professionals:
Build strong brand awareness
Creating a strong and prominent brand is critical for expanding your network within the industry. Producing powerful content, such as a website and text, plays a huge role in making your brand visible. This way you become an active member in the community by connecting with people who use the online platform to network with individuals such as yourself.
According to Business Insider, if people don't know who you are, you can't start building those important relationships. In other words, make your business visible enough so that people choose to seek you out and want to work with you. This way, you not only promote your business and seek the right people to work with, but you can make it possible for industry insiders to discover you even before you discover them.
Foster solid social media presence
Life in the digital age implies that strong brand awareness goes hand-in-hand with social media. Social media has a key role in drawing traffic to your business. If there is an upcoming event or conference you wish to attend, you could use various forms of social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter or the company’s website to obtain information prior to meeting people who interest you.
You can also draw attention to your establishment by leveraging the full potential of social media platforms. Your business should have a Facebook, Instagram and Twitter page where you can build your brand and interact with people from the industry. The more followers you have digitally, the greater your contact base can become. Strong social media presence means that other people in the business have already heard of you, and this lends itself to a chance to connect with industry professionals.
Participate in a networking group
Networking groups and professional online networks, such as LinkedIn, play a vital role in meeting the right people in your industry. LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 313 million members in over 200 countries and territories.
Having a LinkedIn profile is very useful. LinkedIn connects you with career opportunities from industry experts. Using LinkedIn regularly and being more active can also aid you in expanding your network. LinkedIn also allows you to view people’s career history and how they managed to get far in their careers.
By reading their profiles, you can also improve your knowledge of the industry, as LinkedIn exposes you to a network of companies and people you might not have been aware of otherwise. Being an active participant in a networking group such as LinkedIn opens a world of possibilities and different paths which you can take to advance in the industry.
Attend insider events
Once you’ve made your brand visible and your social media presence on LinkedIn is developed, participation in events is the next step. Events such as The Welcome Conference in the US and The Conference and Hospitality Show in the UK are a great chance to meet those people in the businesses you admire. These are professionals who have enjoyed great success in the industry and whom you want to hear from.
Meeting people face to face can have more of an impact than sending an email or speaking over the phone. The hospitality industry places high importance on creating experiences and relationships with both customers and investors. Therefore, attending the events where you can meet people from the industry can contribute to the success of your own business. It gives you an opportunity to share your passion, and it helps you answer some of the questions you’ve been wondering about.
Reach out to industry professionals directly
According to Forbes, nurturing and maintaining strategic relationships is crucial. After attending a conference or doing online research, you should then follow up with the person via Twitter, LinkedIn or e-mail.
Networking both online and offline is a great initial step. However, after you’ve accumulated a good number of contacts, you should start looking to establish meaningful relations. The key to maintaining these relationships is keeping in touch regularly.
Whether it’s a restaurant industry supplier or restauranteur, you should also try to intrigue the person you reach out to by proving to them that you want to form an earnest connection. You shouldn't feel awkward about getting in touch, because it can lead to a chance to expand your network.
Host a party
Harvard Business Review advises that the best way to get invited to a party is to host a party. Try to invite the most interesting professionals you’ve met or would like to meet.
You can further broaden your network by asking them to recommend other people they find interesting as well. Whether you own a restaurant or hotel, you can get organized easily and leverage your contact list to get as many people to come as you can.
Form community partnerships
The hospitality industry places value on creating experiences and relationships with both customers and other businesses. These shared experiences stimulate customer loyalty and contribute to the success of your business. Reaching out to another business can be a good opportunity not only for you but for another business nearby.
Fostering strategic partnerships is a powerful way to connect with the industry’s insiders. Additionally, proposing a partnership with another business can help you be part of a larger network community.
Successful partnerships lead to expanding your client base and network of other professionals in your business. The more relationships you form, the more people you’ll be able to cross paths with.
Don’t underestimate the power of informal chats
Engage in conversations both online and offline. Keep in mind that whether online or offline, most of these social networking opportunities provide a casual approach to connecting with similar people. However, what might seem like an informal chat is often a widow to many opportunities and potential ways you can work together with people from the industry.