The pros of building your business network are easy to see: strengthen your connections, build new relationships, get fresh ideas, raise your profile, gain access to new leads, the list goes on. But networking without a strategy doesn’t get you those results. If you’re not careful, networking without a strategy can easily become nothing more than brunch with business cards. So, how do you make the most of your networking opportunities?
Have a goal.
The internet is amazing and we’re all for taking advantage of online event opportunities, but nothing can replace in-person networking. In addition to the power of a face-to-face meet, after the past few years, people are tired of screens and excited to meet in-person again! Click here to search for networking events in your area.
Break free from “ME”.
You have your goals, your business cards, and you’re ready to rock your networking event- but remember, it’s not all about you. Yes, you’re looking for the opportunities you outlined in your goals, but the people you’re networking with have their own priorities as well. Be generous when networking and explore what others are looking to achieve. Networking works best when it’s a win-win. If you don’t have what that person is looking for, you may know someone who does, and vice versa!
Make a follow-up plan.
Remember, this is more than lunch with business cards and it’s more than becoming Facebook friends. When you meet that win-win connection, make a plan to follow-up! And while we all love the ease of social media, a friend-request doesn’t count as a follow-up. Be sure to reach out to schedule that phone call, zoom meeting, lunch, etc. within a business week of making the connection. After all, no one ever conquered their industry by dragging their feet!
BONUS: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again! Entrepreneurs are busy people with busy schedules. Networking isn't a one and done activity. Take a look at how many networking events you can realistically attend and set a minimum goal for yourself, you're not just trying to find one contact, you're building a whole network!