The key to making the most of networking functions is preparation. As the following tips explain, if you’re well prepared, you’ll be more open to new connections and so will make the most of every networking opportunity.
Plan your time
For so many reasons, not just for networking, a good diary system is essential. More often than not, success comes from planning, organisation and clear, determined goals and vision.
In practical terms, it’s vital you allow time for travel to and from the networking venue to ensure that you arrive early and have time to continue good discussions at the end of the event. If you’re going to a networking lunch or after work event, set your alarm on your mobile phone to remind you to leave the office on time and then make sure you do! It is very easy to get caught up in the day’s activities and be late to the event, therefore wasting a very valuable opportunity.
Realise how important it is to attend each event in a positive frame of mind. If you know you will need wind-down time between work and the event then allow for this in your diary and destress with a meditation CD in the car on the way there.
After each event, diarise follow up calls, reminders and advance notes about who to catch up with at the next event. There’s nothing more embarrassing or damaging to new relationships than to make a connection with a fellow guest at one event and forget their name at the next!
Set your goals
When is the last time you really sat down and articulated your goals, on paper, visually and verbally? If you are like me this is always put in the too hard basket . Because it does not appear to service the business immediately, it gets pushed to the bottom of the to do list.
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I used to struggle with this until a good friend said “make an appointment with yourself and give yourself the same credit you give to your clients”. It was then that I realised that I was my most important client because it was me that kept my business going. Now I schedule time regularly to consider my goals, congratulate myself for what I have achieved (usually involving a very good bottle of wine or a very big block of chocolate!), and set timelines for what I want to achieve in the future.
So what is the benefit of this to a networker? Knowing where you are headed brings a certain confidence and energy that others really do pick up on and somehow you seem to attract what you are looking for. It also means that you are clear on what you’re trying to achieve when you are talking to other guests. People can’t help you unless they know what you need!
Now you’re ready to launch yourself into the networking fray! Next time we will discuss how to make the most of the function itself.