Networking doesn’t stop when the meeting is over. Ideally you need to be spending at least 50% of your networking time maintaining the relationships within your network. It’s a wise choice to allocate at least 30 minutes each day for networking tasks and to strategize your next moves. Here are a few suggestions that have worked for me.
• Follow up with people you met at a previous networking event.
• Call people you haven’t spoken to in a while.
• Tweet a networking tip to your network. If there already is a hashtag in place for the event you will be attending, use it! It’s a great way to connect with people. Don't know what a hashtag is? Google it.
• Answer questions on networking forums.
• Revise your 30-second connection to be compelling and to fit several different networking occasions. Communicate your uniqueness – Rehearse it.
• Schedule your next networking event/meeting in your day-timer. Plan to get there early.
• Comment on networking blogs.
• Send articles of interest to the people in your network.
• Add new members to your contact database.
• Visit the Websites of networking events you plan to visit to help plan your strategy.
• Come up with some new ideas to start conversations with others at networking events.
• Plan to have a breakfast or lunch meeting with someone new in your network.
• Buy a new book about business networking. Never stop learning. – Remember to share it with your network.
• Post a networking tip on your Facebook page (or send someone a link to this Networking blog). 😉
• Target someone in your network to give a business lead – The more you give, the more you get.
• Prepare your marketing material and be ready to go to your next meeting. Business cards & a pen? Check. Information packed handout? Check. Name tag? Check. Wear you name tag on you right shoulder so they will see it when you shake hands.
• Review the networking events you have been attending – phase out the ones that are not working.
• If you haven't made a presentation about your business, call the group leader and request a spot on the agenda.
• Review the business cards you collected at your last event and plan a special way to follow-up.
• Write down your strengths, attributes and special skills. Keep these strengths in your head in order to boost your confidence and remind yourself of why people should be talking with you and listening to what you have to say.
• Put your camera by the front door. Take it to your next meeting. Take lots of photos. When you return to your office it will help you identify some of the people you want to follow-up with.
• Make connections by calling a few people before the event. Arrange to meet them. It’s a huge confidence booster to see some familiar faces when you first arrive.
• Meet often with other expert networkers to discuss ways to improve your networking skills.
When you actually schedule simple tasks like these, you will always be better prepared for your next out-of-office networking meeting or event. Being better prepared boosts your self-confidence. Never stop developing your networking skills.
Networking is not just about showing up and collecting business cards. Focus on the search for people that will fit nicely into your network of support. Developing long-term business relationships is the key.
Suggestion: Print this list and keep it close to your desk as a reminder.
Larry’s Note: A special “Thank you” to Heather Townsend, The Efficiency Coach for her contribution to this article.
Copyright © 2012 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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