By Sabrina Risley, extrapolated with permission from an article by Alecia Huck, Maverick & Company.
It’s the start of a brand new year and you know what that means. That’s right, it’s time to make New Year’s resolutions! At the very least, this means the crowd at the gym will quadruple. Traditionally, it also means the number of professionals who get out and network more than triples. But just as the gym crowd eventually wanes, so too can the crowd at networking events. I attribute this waning to ineffective networking which causes wheel-spinning, something for which professionals rightly have little tolerance and therefore let up on networking.
If you intend to do any amount of networking this year, you will want to do so strategically so as to make networking a useful and sustainable marketing activity. Networking without an effective strategy is what Alecia Huck (the sassy CEO & Founder of Maverick & Company) refers to as “Death By Coffee.” She outlines some incredible strategies for effective networking in her article, The Seven Most Common, Most Surprising Networking Mistakes & How to Do It Better.
START WITH WHAT YOU’VE GOT – One of the biggest missed opportunities is to actually connect, reconnect and interconnect the network you already have. Leverage the work you’ve already done and the relationships you’ve already got before you start spending time and energy trying to build new ones. Identify Strategic Partners, Candidates and Contacts and then focus your time on Strategic Partners and that small group of Candidates that are most likely to become Strategic partners and sources of referrals.
LOOK FOR GREAT STRATEGIC PARTNERS – If you focus on finding clients, you’re focused on finding one person to write you one check. Alternately, a single Strategic Partner is worth 10-100 clients and can connect you with multiple opportunities on an ongoing basis. Looking for Strategic Partners will get you further, faster, than just looking for your next client.
INVEST STRATEGICALLY, NOT EVENLY – Spending time with bad candidates means you have less time to spend with good ones. Not all potential connections are a good fit for your business. Not all connections are created equal. Understand who is a good fit and who is not, act accordingly and spend your time wisely.
SEE GOOD PEOPLE 3x’s – One coffee meeting is just the beginning of something, not the completion of it and if the person IS a good partner, one coffee will not be enough. Relationships are built primarily through shared experiences and shared connections. As a general rule for new connections, you want to see good people 3 times in 3 months in order to build a real relationship. As the relationship progresses, follow up accordingly, based on whether or not they end up as a good Strategic Partner.
PRE-PLAN EVENTS FOR EASY RECONNECTING – Each month, look for and put events in your calendar to give yourself multiple options for inviting Candidates to and staying connected or reconnecting with good people. This also makes it infinitely easier to hit your 3 meetings in 3 months goal with good new contacts. Think beyond coffee meetings… power lunches, large open events and educational events. Pre-planning allows you to have events you can mention during a good first meeting AND reasons to call and reconnect after.
BRING A BUDDY – Time is a precious commodity and when you go to an event alone, you miss a golden opportunity to make your investment of time and energy do double duty. Even if the person cannot attend with you, the simple act of calling allows you to reconnect and they are sure to be flattered to have been invited. Carpool to get some good one-to-one time or make a plan to meet several people at an event, allowing you to make multiple re-connections at the same event. Just don’t go alone.
CONNECT TO NETWORKS, NOT INDIVIDUALS – It takes time to build relationships and credibility with new people. It also takes time to stay connected. When you INTERCONNECT your network, you leverage all your past investments. So connect to existing networks and connect your contacts to your other contacts to build networks around you. Your old connections will share about other projects results with your new connections. Your people will talk to each other about you. They’ll often do business together, like each other, and build relationships of their own. It’s far easier to stay connected to a web of connected people than it is to stay in touch with a bunch of individuals.
As with most things in life, success is not about working harder, it’s about working smarter. Knowing a few simple secrets and following a few simple rules can make a HUGE difference in how effective your networking efforts will be. While all seven strategies are important and useful, applying even ONE will make a positive difference. Often the source of a major breakthrough is a relatively minor shift in strategy.
Cheers to you and effective networking in the New Year!
(c) 2012 Behind The Moon, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Feel free to share this article in its entirety and include the Bio information for Sabrina Risley below along with live link back to this blog post. Thank you.
Sabrina Risley founded Behind The Moon, Inc.® in 2003, a Colorado-based networking organization that sets itself apart with its motto “grow your business by helping others grow theirs.” Behind The Moon offers several networking events across Colorado’s Front Range that attract professionals who network to give rather than get. You will find Sabrina speaking to audiences about effective networking techniques, the power of partnerships, and principles of service and giving as a means to grow a business. Sign up for Sabrina’s free report, Networking For Success at http://www.behindthemooninc.com/index.php/free-report.
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