As with any marketing effort, a strategy is required for networking.
Networking can easily turn attending random events into making random new acquaintances. In Northwest Arkansas there are a number of valuable and vibrant networking groups and opportunities. However, just “showing up” won’t drive results or build relationships.
So how can one go about creating a strategy?
1. Identify what works for you.
While attending the various local networking events, it is important to identify which groups work best for you and your business or the business you represent. Attend different events to see where you thrive! While there will be various industries in attendance, you should ask yourself a number of questions.
Ask yourself, do other attendees and I have common values? Does this time and date allow me to attend regularly? Are these professionals people I feel comfortable sending referrals to [after all, it is better to give than to receive]?
2. Keep it real.
Effectively “working” a networking group requires regular attendance and a committed mindset. The goal is to build relationships where people can identify with you or the business you represent and learn to know, like, and trust you. By attending regularly and acting transparently, you build rapport and reflect the consistency of your business.
Be sure to attend groups regularly. When attending events, don’t always talk about your product or service, mix it up and highlight your passions and what you enjoy in your spare time.
3. Know your why.
Your why needs to be intentional. If you wake up an hour early to attend an event, wake up knowing why you are attending. You are spending your valuable time to attend so be sure to have an intention. Whether it’s to set two 1:1 meetings or to send someone a referral or to promote an upcoming non-profit event. Don’t lose your intensions.
Actually, record your intentions in your strategy calendar (keep reading!)
4. Be sure to ask.
Upon sitting down with another professional for a 1:1 be sure the make the ask. No, not the sales pitch kind of “ask.” Be sure to ask something along the lines of, “who can I send your way” or “what is a good referral that I can send you?”
Ask this question with sincerity. Take notes when the person is telling you about their ideal referral network.
5. Create a strategy.
At NWA Brand, we implement this concept to all of our social strategies, but it also applies to networking, campaigning, or any marketing strategy. Creating a calendar overview of your strategy will aid in consistency, organization, and keeping commitments.
Whether it’s Google calendar, a hard-copy planner, or an excel sheet, an actual calendar allowing you to commit to your strategy and have an aerial view of your efforts.
Good networking efforts can easily get lost. Hopefully you can use these five steps to creating a networking strategy to aid in solidifying your efforts and getting organized in your networking!