Are You a Strategic Networker?

Networking isn’t just exchanging business cards. The objective is to really form valuable relationships. Those relationships can help you to be happy at work. Most of us (myself included) show up at networking events without much preparation.  I love meeting new people and learning about different businesses.  That is ok if you have a business where your ideal client is in a business or if you are looking for a new job opportunity in a business that may have a representative at the meeting.  If you have a different target market, then you need to be more strategic about where and how you do your networking.  Here is a list of suggestions to help you be a more intentional marketer

  1. Select a group that makes sense for you and your business or career.

Does the group attract your potential customer? Does it put you in contact with your strategic partners? Does it help you stay current in your field? Could you learn new skills that will help you find work or business? Meetings that involve potential customers or strategic partners get you in touch with your target market. Meetings that teach you new skills or keep you up to date, can get you in touch with mentors and peers. Decide before the meeting who you want to meet and know what they have to offer you.

  1. Set goals for the event.

Set some goals for the networking event.  What would make this networking event really successful for you.  Do you need a specific number of contacts?  What will a great networking contact have as a title?    Do you have some questions that you want answered at this event?  What skills will the people who you want to meet have?

  1. Identify people in the group you want to meet.

Do some investigative work before the event.  Who is coming to the event?  Is there a list of attendees?  Is there someone you can ask about the group?  Identify the movers and the shakers in the group. These are the people who know everyone else and can introduce you to others. They are worth building a relationship with if they have knowledge about your target market and know some of the people you want to meet.  Before the meeting make a list of the people you want to meet.  Find someone who can introduce you.

  1. Arrive at the meeting early and stay late.

Networking occurs before and after the meeting. If you just come in time for the meeting and then leave at the end, you will only have an opportunity to meet the few people sitting around you, if that.  Give yourself at least 15 minutes at the beginning and 15 minutes at the end to network.  If you enjoy it and you find it productive stay longer.

5 Listen more and talk less.

Ask people questions and get them talking about themselves and their businesses. Find out what they are struggling with or what they are celebrating. Most people love to talk about themselves and will remember those who seemed interested in them and their work.  Listen.  Ask questions that will tell you if this person would be helpful to you in your business or job search.

  1. Make notes on the back of the business cards you receive.

If you exchange business cards with someone, write down the date of the meeting and what the event was on the back of the card. Jot down a couple of notes about your conversation.  It will be helpful to you when you do #10 a personal note and also  when you call the person to continue building the relationship.

  1. Help others.

If you want help from others, be prepared to help others. Your openness is felt and will be appreciated.  It is easier to ask for help from someone who has asked you for help in the past.  This is like putting money (help) in the bank to be used when you need it.

8.. Become an active member.

Once you decide on a group to join, become an active member so others will get to know you. Meeting someone once is just the beginning. You want to cultivate deeper relationships. Volunteer to lead a group or become an officer in the organization. Build deeper relationships with the members of the organization as you get to know more of the members.

  1. Form relationships.

People are not part of your network until you have a relationship with them. Some of those you meet you will want to stay connected with through email and regular mail. With others, you may want to make an appointment to talk by phone or in person. Keep an address book or spread sheet updated with those people you want to build a relationship with.  You can make notes on when you last met and what you talked about.

10 Follow up with a personal note.

Write a personal note to those you meet and add them to your mailing list, contact manager and/or spreadsheet. To keep the connection mail them an update, tip, or article periodically. Another way to stay connected is to connect with them on LinkedIn.

Coaching Opportunity

Does networking seem like a good idea to you but whenever there is an opportunity to do some networking you find a reason not to go?  Work or family always gets in the way.  If you really want to find a way to do some networking, I can help you.  We’ll find what is blocking you and keeping you stuck.  I’ll help you to overcome the obstacles so that networking becomes something you look forward to.  Call me at 781-598-0388 for more information.

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