Networking is a valuable business activity, but we need to make the time we use COUNT as we can easily get carried away having networking lunches dinners breakfasts and teas that have no aim and end up costing a fair amount!
This means doing something outside of the networking meetings too as networking time must be time spent effectively when we are doing it, for an appropriate return. So when we are not actually at networking meetings, what should this time consist of?
Successful networkers often allocate one networking day in a week, their primary marketing strategy, which may involve a meeting itself, and they would arrange a 121 meeting before or after the meeting, or both!
The networking day would also include follow up- as we get caught up in the day to day doing of our business this is something that can be sidelined and is so important- a networking deadly sin is promising to do something and then not doing it!
Those who are more experienced in networking will know that when we follow up we are demonstrating our integrity which enables our fellow networkers to build trust in us, so that they are more likely to pass us their valued business contacts.
Following up and giving someone business means they are likely to bend over backwards to reciprocate.
Other activity your networking day may involve is training. As we invest in our business skills, such as managing our finances, likewise networking is a skill that we all need to invest in significantly to be able to be effective at it. I often thought that if it is fun then surely it cannot be working as I thoroughly enjoy training sometimes more than the doing- but now I know how valuable that has in my business.
If you had10 hours to saw down a tree- 8 hours should be spent sharpening the saw! Self development gurus such as Stephen Covey are big advocates of this school of thought.
Finally the time can be spent inviting people to attend the meetings you attend- why would that help you reach your business goals I hear you say? Remember that the more people in the room, the more your chance of you being passed a contact that can really make a difference in your business as the number of potential indirect contacts increases exponentially.
The laws of networking have evidenced that the more people there are networking in a room, the more each is likely to contribute individually, one reason being the more buzz it creates!
You may find it really difficult to pick up the phone or meet someone for the purpose of selling a service or product. People often dread the word ‘selling’ and so did I, so as a member of a networking group, I would find it easier to invite them to a meeting and network with them as a better way of opening up doors.
The best sales people will tell you that people buy ‘you’- that means that sales success means success in building relationships.
So is your networking strategy effective? Do you spend enough time networking? Do you allocate time away from your core networking meetings to have 121 meetings, to follow up, to train and to invite?
Just something to think about as we embark on our ‘doing’ activities- Happy Networking New Year!
Rita Hemraj is Regional Director for Athena North London, planning a Visitor’s Event March 9th 2011 celebrating International Women’s Day in conjunction with London Digital PR. For more info see http://tiny.cc/Visitors_Event
Member since: 19th April 2011
The Athena Network facilitates structured networking meetings for professional business women. Members recognise that networking is a critical factor in the growth & development of their business....