The New Year, and Sept after the school holidays, are always the busiest time of year for networking. We come back with a new boost of excitement and energy, ready to hit our goals and targets. This usually means filling our shiny new diaries with lots of events and meetings, because if we’re busy we’re productive – right? Well…
Going to a lot of networking events can be a wonderful thing; throwing yourself into a new networking scene if you’ve just moved to a new city, or started a new job, is a great way to connect with a high volume of people in a short space of time. However this isn’t a sustainable plan, in fact it’s often not a plan at all! It’s simply attending all the events we like the look of / are being held at time’s we’re available / are offering free booze and food.
Attending all the events out there will quickly result in burn-out (trust me, I was a full-time networker for a year, going to 5 or 6 events a DAY, it’s hard work), and will mean you’ve got no time to do anything else; like your actual job! Instead, I’m on a mission to help you become more strategic in your approach to networking – so you’ll be attending fewer events but seeing a vast improvement on your return on investment, achieving your objectives faster, and have way more time on your hands to do everything you need to!
To get you started, here are my 5 simple steps on how to network strategically:
1 – Objectives
Knowing what you want to achieve from networking is the first step to being strategic. Do you want to make more sales? Build a support network? Feel part of a community? Tap into others’ knowledge and experience? Source new suppliers? Raise your personal profile? All of these are great reasons to network, and your objectives will naturally change over time and due to circumstance. Being aware of what your objectives is so important, and will make you way more likely to succeed. As they say if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you ever get there?! (I’ve no idea who say that but I’ve heard it before and always really like it.)
For a bit more on objectives take a look at last weeks’ 2 Min Networking Tip –
2 – Host
Look at the host of the event you’re considering attending: what do they stand for? What industry do they work in? Who are their members? Who will be attracted to their events? Once you know the answer to those questions, you’ll be able to decide if the people who’ll be attending events hosted by this network/company are the people you’re looking to meet based on your objectives. If you’re not too sure, get in touch with them and have a chat. Find out about their network, tell them about the type of people you’re looking to connect with, and they’ll be able to let you know if their events are the right fit.
3 – Theme
Does the event have a specific theme, topic or speaker(s)? If so, ask your self similar questions: will the people I want to meet in order to achieve my objectives be interested in this event? Will they care about this topic? Will they be attracted to this theme? If the answer is yes, wonderful! Get booked on! If the answer is no, then it might be worth thinking about the type of themes/topics your target demographic would be interested in and find events that match.
4 – Location
With the global adoption of online networking it’s never been easier to network with anyone in the world, however, if you’re target market are based in specific areas it might not be as time efficient as you think. If you can only work with clients in your region, for example, then there’s no point in networking online with people based in a completely different regions when your networking objective is to get new clients! Geography is easy in-person because you’re physically going to the events and can strategically position yourself in the location of your target market. Online can be a bit more tricky, but a good indicator is going back to step 2 and looking at the host: if the host is based in Newcastle for example, their network is likely to be in/around Newcastle and therefor the delegates at their events are also likely to be from Newcastle. Again, if you’re unsure you can always ask.
5 – Research
Doing your research and putting in some time before you even get to a networking event is a great way to ensure you’re getting the most out of the opportunity. Utilise social media (search and use #’s associated with the event), source delegates lists if available, speak to the host and ask for facilitated introductions if appropriate, book in meetings before/during/after to utilise your time – especially when travelling to events. Doing some research and planning before an event really can make all the difference.
I could talk about strategic networking all day (and sometimes do!) so I’ve written ‘The Art of Strategic Networking’, a more comprehensive look at how to network strategically that you can DOWNLOAD FREE!
Or if you’d like to learn even more take a look at the upcoming Networking Bootcamp happening in Newcastle on Thurs 24th Feb 2022 – a full day of fun, interactive networking training designed to give you all the skills and tools and knowledge you need to absolutely smash the world of networking! For more info and to book clickety-click HERE!