I recently interviewed top business consultant and author Lucas Chang on how he made the switch from management consulting to entrepreneurship. He gave some amazing advice on how you can network to generate new opportunities  for your career or business.

Do you struggle with building your network? Are you nervous to put yourself out there? This post is for you!

Here are four ways to network to generate new opportunities:

 

1. Create a compelling value proposition.

Before you get out there, it’s important that you know your stuff. I recommend creating a 2-3 sentence branding statement that answers the question ‘What value do you bring?’ When you know what value you can offer other people, it’ll become easier to market yourself to potential business partners or employers.

2. Gain experience by checking out your existing network.

For a lot of us, networking can be very difficult. Putting yourself out there is hard, especially in a room full of strangers. My top tip: start with your network first to build up your confidence. Schedule one-on-one coffees or phone meetings with relevant connections where you can ask them questions about your market, learn about new opportunities, and test out/get feedback on your value proposition.

3. Branch out to external networking opportunities.

In addition to big networking events in your area, a great way to make new connections and generate leads is to go through chambers of commerce, trade shows, and alumni networking activities. This will help you get your name out there so that you’re thought of first when businesses need the expertise you offer.

4. Be respectful of your connections and networking partners.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to have respect for both the people you’re talking to and the people who introduced you. Be on time, make sure the meeting ends on time, and most importantly: send your networking partner an agenda and an objective for the meeting before you meet with them. This will make sure that you’re not imposing and should also lessen your nerves since you have a schedule and prepared questions to follow.

5. Make a point of finding out what’s important to your networking partner. 

The best way to find out how you can add value and deepen the relationship is to discover what makes your networking partner tick. What are some challenges they’re facing? What kind of things do they want that you can provide? Not only will this help you become known as a trustworthy and attentive connection, you’ll also be able to do some subtle market research if you’re networking with a potential client.

Want to hear more about how to generate leads and get your first client? Check out my full interview with Lucas below and let me know what you think in the comments section!