Most people who say Networking Doesn’t Work are attending events either with the wrong purpose or simply attend a few events and then give up. Unfortunately in both cases the business they are supporting suffers. Why doesn’t networking, a tried and true marketing tool, not work for some, but is beneficial for many others? It’s pretty simple; true networkers know how to plan before an event, pilot the event and and pursue after the event. I call these my three p’s of networking. Today I will discuss how to plan to work an activity before you even enter the door. In following weeks, I will discuss the piloting at the event and the pursuit after it is over. First the plan.
First: Plan ahead of each event whom or what type of business you wish to meet. Usually that is a prospective client or a business that shares your market without competing with you. Example of the last is a Real Estate Broker/Mortgage co./Home Inspector. These are most commonly called power partners and can be great referral sources. In some cases meeting theses folks is more helpful than potential clients.
Second: Plan networking as part of your advertising budget. Consider it your most cost effective advertising tool. Expect a rate of return from your investment of money and time. If an event is complimentary such as a mixer. Put a dollar figure on your time. You are taking time away from other activities including business. Change your mindset from just attending an event to expecting a rate of return either through a potential new client or a referral partner or power partner.
Third: Plan to Track networking events.Most chambers have websites. Find the events that will draw power partners and clients or are being produced by organizations you wish to meet. Could be those hosted by a large employer not usually at networking events or a potential power partner.
Fourth: Plan to meet 4-6 new businesses or share something new about your organization with those you know. This will keep you top of mind for those you already know and create a discipline forcing you from your comfort zone to meet new business owners.
Fifth: Plan to have a WING person. Two or more of you attend a function, working for each other. Doubling your efforts. You split at the door following a disciplined plan to meet new people. You may not be able to work with a person you have just met but just maybe your WING person can and you have the priviledge of facilitating the introduction. If you are part of a referral group, make certain these folks are working for you as WING people. Sixth: Sit with those you do not know. This is obvious, but how often is it done?
Seventh: Plan to bring business cards. Your best marketing tool. Make yours stand out.
Plan your networking ahead of events and your business will grow!