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How To Optimise Your Networking - Part 2

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This is the second part of How to Optimise Your Networking.

Networking is a critical part of the "marketing pie" but without careful planning and thought it can be time consuming and unproductive. In order to avoid networking becoming another time stealer, I have 10 tips to maximise your time at networking events and remember that an event is only part of the whole process. As a reminder my definition of networking is

"Creating mutually beneficial relationships with like minded people with whom you can offer and receive value, knowledge and support over time"

1. Know your purpose - Is the event for making new business contacts, meeting possible business partners, learning about or updating yourself on industry trends or increasing your support team. Think ahead of the event so you can prepare your answer to "so what do you do?" in the context of your purpose for that specific event and your overall business goals.

2. Prepare yourself - dress appropriately for the event so you feel comfortable and think about how you can also stand out and be noticed and remembered. You are marketing yourself and representing your company. How do you want to be perceived? Do your business cards act as a great marketing tool? Making time before the event to really think about impact will serve you well once you get into the event itself.

3. Give yourself a challenge - both a fun thing to do and something to stretch your skills. You could aim to speak to all the people in blue ties, all the people who are first time visitors (this is sometimes noted on the attendee list) get 20 business cards or find 5 people who will give you feedback on your latest marketing idea. This challenge should be connected to your overall business objectives. Random activities are not productive.

4. Enlist the help of your host for introductions - if you are a first time attendee or do not know anyone, ask the host to introduce you to 2 or 3 people who fit your purpose for that event. Connecting with the host is not only polite but can also enable you to optimise how and with whom you spend the limited time you have.

5. Listen, Listen, Listen - spend time really hearing what other people are saying. Get them talking about themselves their business and what challenges they are facing. Great networkers create relationships first. Time spent listening and gathering information will enable you to really understand how you can help someone. This is always the primary activity - give first.

6. Create opportunities for a further conversation - networking is a process and one off meetings are rarely going to lead to business. When you meet someone that shows an interest in what you have to offer, ask him or her if they would like to meet for coffee/lunch or would like to have a phone conversation to take things further. The follow up with prospects, suspects or potential partners takes more time but is often where the real value in networking happens. Be selective about who you do this with and again have a purpose for that follow up "coffee meeting"

7. Pay it Forward - think about how you can help other people. Can you introduce them to a possible partner or business opportunity? Do you have some great resource that they could benefit from? This is what makes great networkers stand out from ordinary networkers. Continually ask yourself "how can I help this person?" and "What one piece of information, advice or one contact could I give to this person?"

8. Ask for what you want - Whilst listening is important getting a great outcome for yourself is equally important so knowing your purpose for the event is the first step, knowing how people can help you is also vital. Be brave and ask for what you want otherwise how will people know? Your time is precious and so each person you speak with needs to be aware, before they leave you, what it is you do, who you do it for and how they might be able to help you further.

9. Enjoy yourself and move on - Yes enjoy the event and yes have great conversations and focus on what your purpose is. However, spending 2 hours of a 2 hours event talking to one person is not making the most of the event. Develop a great moving on strategy so you don't spend too much time in one place. If a particular person is engaging and you both feel you are getting mutual benefit from the conversation ask them if they would like to meet up at a future date. Then move on

10. Review and Follow up - Take some time after each event to assess how successful the event was against your purpose and your challenge. Reconnect with those people you said you would and plan the meetings phone calls and actions you promised. Having taking the time to attend the event to not continue the process after the event is an unproductive activity and not good time management. As the saying goes if it's worth doing it's worth doing well and random activity at random events with random follow up is not a good strategy and not good use of your time.

Good luck with your networking and enjoy future events. What challenges will you set yourself?


About the Author

Beverley Hamilton works with independent business consultants to help them grow a profitable consultancy and still have time for their life. You can get my Free Ecourse Discover the 5 Most Common Incorrect Assumptions Independent Business Consultants Make and a complimentary subscription to Quickstart, the newsletter specifically for consultants. Go to One Step Further for more instantly accessible resources. Your future Your choice!


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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2008-03-16 19:24:01 in Business Articles

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