‘Networking takes a lot of your time and energy – and yet so many people simply go along and see what happen’ - Bryony Thomas
Too many people network without having a clear vision on what they wish to achieve or gain from each platform they use or events they attend. Setting goals and following processes will ensure that you get results and success through networking.
Setting yourself a clear strategy will help you to feel more focused, have a direction, understand your achievements and more importantly remain positive.
Here is a 5-steps process that you can use to set a clear networking strategy:
1/ Set your goals and a timeframe to achieve them
It is likely that your motivation is linked to your business, career or personal objectives. Every networker has its own goals and knowing which are yours will be extremely helpful in getting more results out of various networking activities.
So, what are you hoping to achieve?
Here are some example of reasons people network:
Spot or generate opportunities
Build or grow a business or career
Extend and strengthen relationships
Increase their pool of contacts
Build awareness of what they do
Understand the marketplace and business landscape
Raise their personal profile externally and internally
Have a good time
2/ Networking audit
Each of us naturally has our own network.
Draw out your network map.... Research and assess who you already have in your network and who can you reconnect with or ask support from. Also think about who do you want to meet and need to meet to achieve your goals. Try to profile those key contacts clearly and gather specifics about them.
This will help you prioritise your networking activities: building connections, deepening existing relations or preparing relationships.
Once you know who you need to reach out to, define and research where you could possibly meet those people: what type of events could they attend, are you more likely to be successful by connecting with them online, could someone introduce you, etc.?
It is also crucial that you research more about who they are and clearly profile them i.e. research their industry, position, activities outside work, personality types.
This part can be split into 5:
- first you have identified this contact or prospect,
- then you need to connect with this person (online or face-to-face) and start a conversation,
- if you have taken the decision to move from small talk to a deeper conversation, you are then engaging with the person,
- considering the trust is now built, you would then decide to collaborate with them whether to make direct business or to support each other through referrals,
- by this last step, you would have already worked together or helped each others and this contact is now part if your inner circle.
Keep in touch with your network and your contacts through regular communication - maybe by sharing and sending them valuable content?
Be realistic in your expectations and know what to expect from networking.
Last but not least, measure your effectiveness and achievements on a regular basis to make sure you are on the right track and reassess your goals regularly as well.
Networking is working and it takes time and effort; without a well established strategy and processes you are risking to feel demotivated and be unsuccessful. Networking works so make it work for you as well!
"Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential." – Winston Churchill
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