Building your business network is all about delivering value

Building value-added connections is a big part of my role at Riverside Co. This is challenging in a dynamic environment where everyone’s time is at a premium and they’re inundated with a wide range of communication.

One great way to filter through the clutter and reach your key targets is to give them valuable information. This “value-added networking” can change quick interactions at events into proactive calls and lasting positive impressions. It helps you stand out in a sea of people vying for time.

The foundation of value-added networking is developing a clear understanding of your audience and delivering symbiotic information and introductions that they value. At Riverside, I strive to find exceptional growing businesses in specific industries operating in niche markets.

It’s critical for me to cultivate relationships with industry experts, business owners and supply chain participants to help me understand trends and where to find the best investment opportunities.

Be impactful, invaluable and differentiated
To reach this constituency, I strive to be a subject expert myself — not aiming to match their legacy industry expertise, but so I can develop symbiotic relationships through understanding their needs. I can make connections directly with my target audience, but often, they are with members of an industry’s supply chain or trade association, or other providers that serve those industries.

Whomever you’re trying to reach, delivering rich, actionable content is critical. Whether I created it or simply recognized its value to a specific group or person, I share information that helps people do their job better or improve their company’s bottom line.

The basic tools
The great thing about value-added networking is that the only cost is often time and building your own knowledge base. Here are some of the ways to tap into value-added networking:

  Become a student of industries by learning from and credibly interacting with industry participants.
■  Develop ongoing dialogues with specialized, focused LinkedIn groups. Identify unique subgroups in LinkedIn where experts interact.
  Commit to speaking engagements at trade shows and with industry groups.
  Create podcasts after trade shows or events to share a real-time reactions.
  Send personal emails with tidbits, articles or tips that would be of interest to a specific individual — this is easy and can be very meaningful.
  To supercharge your efforts, consider partnering with a third-party service provider to enhance your online presence or even do a social influencer campaign.

Networking never stops
Value-added networking is a process and a commitment. Tending to your network should be a daily effort, but it needs to be a judicious one. If you’re worried about overdoing it, just remember to always think of your audience first.

Don’t share something just to put your name out there — do it because you’re certain it will be truly beneficial to the connections you’re trying to build. If it’s the latter, chances are you’re creating lasting relationships that will bear fruit going forward.

Matthew Delly is Director, Thesis Driven Organization, at The Riverside Co.