“Why do you show up for social events? Peer pressure, because your boss or friend told you to, or just because there was an event. If you answered yes to any of these you may be doing it wrong. Networking for the sake of networking does not make sense.”
(Good) Networking Starts with a Plan
Networking has become a popular buzzword used often in the business community. While the importance of meeting new people and building solid business relationships can’t be denied, it’s also necessary to go about this in the right way. If you are constantly attempting to network with no real plan, your efforts could end up being counterproductive. Let’s look at a few of the most important points to keep in mind so you can network more effectively.
1. Identify Your Objectives
In order to network effectively, you first have to define your objectives. Are you trying to find new clients or customers for your business? Or do you have a less specific, more long term goal of increasing brand awareness for your business? Whatever your objectives, the more clearly you define them, the easier it will be to come up with an effective plan.
2. Utilize Social Media With Discernment
In-person meetups these days are often preceded by connections made on social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. The more you fine tune your social media communications, the easier it will be to build the most mutually beneficial relationships. If you belong to too many groups or social media networks, your efforts can get diluted. You will be conversing with large numbers of people, but they will probably not be very well targeted. It’s better to use some discernment and limit your social media interactions to a focused and manageable level.
3. Choose the Right Events
You should be selective when it comes to the types of events you attend. You don’t necessarily have to show up for every business related lecture, seminar or networking event you see advertised. Try to limit yourself to events that are a close match to your objectives. For example, if your goal is to find more clients for your SEO consulting business, you should target events that are likely to be attended by people who need these services.
4. Have Something to Offer People
The old custom of simply shaking lots of hands and giving out lots of business cards is not very effective today. People are too busy and overloaded with information. That’s why it’s essential to have something specific to offer potential clients, customers or partners. If you have a free product that you use to build leads, such as a course, book or white paper, you could offer it to people you meet. This will give them an incentive to stay in touch with you.
5. Having a Plan Makes You a Better Networker
The more focused and purposeful you are, the more effective your networking efforts will be. Having defined objectives and being selective about how and where you network are good starting points. You also have to remember that building relationships is a two-way street. If you want something from people, you must also have something valuable to offer them.