1 hour a week?
3 hours a week?
5 or more hours a week?
If you invest that much of your valuable time in an activity, what’s your strategy? Most business professionals network without a specific outcome in mind.
Developing your reach through networking can be a game changer. When networking effectively, you get a lot more than you might realize. You’ll get:
Consider networking as your relationship capital. Relationship capital is created by design, not by luck. Successful networkers know that a well-thought out strategy brings the strongest return.
First, select targeted events with your ideal clients in mind. Who are your ideal clients? What kind of events are they attending? Too often you’re networking with your peers and think you’ve done your networking. Find out where you’re ideal clients hang out and attend those events so that you get the biggest gain from your networking events.
Second, put together a list of strategic partners. Start by listing your contacts who have referred business to you in the last 8-12 months. Write a short thank you note to acknowledge them and consciously make an effort to reciprocate and nurture the relationship. There are a number of ways to nurture the relationship, such as:
- Inviting them to a mutually beneficial networking event as your guest
- Nominating their company for an award
- Connecting them with a key contact
Third, keep in touch. If you said you would call someone, call them. If you mentioned a relevant resource, then take the time to send it. To make the most of your networking, create a keep in touch process. The reality is that many of the people you meet the first time will not be ready to do business with you today. However, they may be ready in six months. If you don’t have a keep in touch system in place, think about what you can email them a week later that would add some value to them and keep your conversation top of mind. One of my connections worked with large corporations and just launched her book. I read an online article that was a spot-on match for her to use in her marketing and relevant to her new book’s content. It only took a second, but the thank you note I received from her expressed genuine gratefulness and a time-saving marketing idea for her to implement right away.
Remember to start networking with your strategy in mind. Once you establish a solid strategy, your networking becomes more purposeful, productive, and profitable.