Business networking can take up a lot of time (and money). You need a Networking Strategy to make it as effective as possible.
Without a networking strategy it is easy to attend networking events without any clear purpose. It is easy to wander around aimlessly talking to just anyone who might be free. It is easy to let conversations continue without meeting other new people. It is easy to miss opportunities with the people you do meet. It is easy to leave an event wondering what you achieved by attending. It is easy to fall into one or all of these traps.
This can be avoided if you take time the time to prepare your business networking plan and set yourself clear goals at the outset. By having well-defined goals you can also prevent yourself from taking on too much at the same time.
1. Write Business Networking Goals & Objectives
Setting effective business networking goals are essential if you are to get maximum value for your time and money from your business networking activities. By setting clearly defined goals you will not only use your time efficiently (and effectively), you should also get the results that you are seeking.
Start by deciding on some specific overarching Business Networking Goals and Objectives.
2. Plan and Prepare for each Networking Event you attend.
Once you have an overarching set of goals, you will be able to build upon these by setting goals and action points for each event you attend.
Start by deciding what you need to achieve to make the attendance of the event worthwhile.
3. Research & Join a Networking Group
Networking groups are a great way to boost your networking strategy and there are plenty of choices. There is a wide choice of types of networking groups. There is also a wide choice of business networking formats; from business networking breakfast meetings, mid morning coffee sessions, lunch-time events to early evening business networking sessions.
Pick the right networking group and it will be a valuable part of your networking strategy.
Further Reading: How to choose a Networking Group
4. Be Active and follow-up
Being an active networker is often the best thing you can do to boost your networking (and the benefits you reap from it). Networking is about being helpful and working at it. By being an active member of your group or community or simply taking the time to follow-up can make you memorable, and more likely to get more out of the experience – which is why being active, and planning how you are going to be an active networker and follow up can be an important part of your networking strategy.
5. Review and Evaluate
Like everything else you should review and evaluate your networking strategy and track your progress. I keep a Networking Notebook to help keep track of my networking activities and follow up. I also try to review my progress on a regular basis and make adjustments when necessary.
- A Beginner’s Guide to Networking
- How to Choose a Networking Group