What's the fastest way to build useful contacts from scratch?
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.First, how many old contacts do you already know that can help you in your venture? It's always easier to go back and rebuild old contacts then it is to build new relationships.
However, if you want to start from scratch, start attending every networking event you can schedule. How many? In our business, some of our most successful coaches use networking exclusively and attend at least 10 to 15 networking functions per week.
At these events they shake hands, give out business cards and just get to know other entrepreneurs in the area. Don't be afraid to contact your local Chamber of Commerce or other associations and networking groups to find out when and where they meet. Then go there and just talk to everyone you can. There are usually a number of local groups, like the local Chamber of Commerce, that are outstanding for networking.
Once you've gotten to know some of them, you can begin to send your new contacts updates about your business. Newsletters are great ways to keep in touch with both clients and other entrepreneurs and you can even send a monthly post card as a way to keep the relationship alive.
Networking is like being a politician in a lot of ways. To do either role successfully you need to get among the people and meet as many of them as you can. The major difference is that for politicians, once they've met you, the process is finished. In business, networking is a never ending way of life and meeting is just the first step toward building a relationship.