Take Charge of Your Networking

networkingNetworking is often what turns a small business into a thriving and prosperous business. Last night, I attended a Chamber of Commerce small business networking event, and I was reminded of how important it is to not just attend these events, but to be proactive in your networking strategy to get the most out of your time and effort. Networking success comes with planning and follow up.

Create Networking Goals

What do you want to achieve with your networking efforts? For example, do you want to create partnerships with other business owners? Do you want to broaden awareness of your brand or drive traffic to your website? Do you want to increase credibility? Decide what your goals are and then you can move onto the next step which is to plan how you’re going to achieve your goals.

Choose Your Tactics

Once you have your goals, plan how you’re going to achieve them. This step involves two considerations:

  1. How much time do you have to commit to networking?
  2. What tactics best support your goals?

For example, if you want to generate partnerships with other business owners you might choose to attend a local networking meeting each month. This may easily fit into your available time and schedule.

If your goal is to drive traffic to your website, then you may choose to focus on social networking sites. This tactic may require a daily time commitment of an hour or more, which may or may not fit into your goals.

Take Good Care of Your Contacts

Regardless of the goals you have, it’s important to take great care of your new contacts. Touch base with them on a consistent basis. Provide value. Send information, notes and clippings to professional contacts. Send articles, videos and valuable email messages to social networking contacts.

The more you take care of your new contacts, the more value they’ll provide you. Your networking efforts will be worth your time and energy.

Turn Your New Contacts Into More New Contacts

Networking has the power to multiply your efforts. For example, you might create a referral program. Each contact or customer who sends you a new customer might receive a reward. Also, the more value you provide, the more likely your new contacts will tell others about your business. Put your networking contacts to work for you.

Schedule Your Networking

Networking can take over your life. However, you can gain control of it by simply adding your networking time into your schedule. Plan time for it so you can stay in charge.

Also consider using technology to help you maximize your time. Email groups and autoresponders can help you send messages to new contacts. Social networking applications can also help you schedule posts in advance.

Taking charge of your networking is as simple as setting goals, creating a plan and scheduling your tactics. Use your resources to maximize your time so that networking can maximize your business!



Author’s content used under license, © Claire Communications



Strategic Networking in a Social World

Strategic Networking in a Social WorldHow to Leverage Social Media to Connect

Are you a strategic networker?  Do you use social media to leverage your networking and create opportunities to connect?

The Internet and social media have changed how we do business, communicate and network with clients and prospects. Even more so, businesses are more constrained by time and money to invest in connecting and prospecting for business face-to-face. So how can you use social media to help make networking a better return on your investment?

Strategic networking using social media puts an end to shuffling from one event to another with a stack of business cards. Follow these four steps to get started.

  1. Look at your calendar and write down all the networking events you attended in the last year. Be specific and list who attended, why you attended, and what potential business opportunities were available to you.
  2. Set your criteria for what you expect from your networking time. Are you getting your name out there to brand yourself and company? Are you specifically looking for leads for business? Are you helping others connect and making referrals? Are you involved with the group in a leadership role?  It’s important that you understand the purpose of your networking time, and what your return will be for that time. You may have different criteria for different types of networking events.
  3. Take a hard look at how much of your networking leads to new business. Make a decision as to how much your time is worth and how much of your networking time needs to be dedicated to getting new business.
  4. Decide which networking events that you have been attending truly have given you a return on your investment.  Be ruthless. You may want to continue events where you know everyone and have a good time socializing, but is that going to help you grow your business?

Now it’s time to put strategy into your networking scenario.  Who is your target market and where do they “hang out?” Social media will help you find the people who can potentially buy or use your services or connect you with those who can. You want to strategically find the networking events that will help you meet your goals and make good use of your valuable time.

Making Strategic Connections On Line Leading to Off Line (more…)

Podcast: A Stack of Business Cards is Not a Sales Strategy

Deborah Frey, co-host of our Blog Talk Radio Show – 30 Minute Business Dig, shares her knowledge and expertise during this interview about “Purposeful Networking.” In the era of relationship marketing, we cannot passively connect in face-to-face networking opportunities. Presence has power and engagement is the fuel. Individual approaches to networking vary, but the successful among us strategically plan to optimize the value for sales and customer loyalty.

Do you have anything to add to this? Please comment.