Sponsored Post by Antoinette Sykes, MBA
Networking. Connecting. Schmoozing. All of those words lead to some level of building relationships. Unfortunately, it also a tad intimidating for some business owners; although necessary. How well do you network?
Consider networking your “social capital” for business increase. Networking is a part of your marketing plan and all pieces of your plan makes for a well oiled machine that produces exposure and income. As we dive into are art of networking, specifically we’ll talk about including networking in your marketing efforts consistently for connected increase.
First, it’s called NET-WORK for a reason. It implies action. It implies movement continuously. It is proactive in fact. It is NOT passive and you cannot just let it happen. If the latter is you, it’s time to set yourself apart from others immediately.
Definition: Networking is a process where you develop contacts and relationships to increase your business, accentuate your knowledge, expand your circle of influence or to serve the community. In essence, it’s leveraging both your personal and business connections/relationships to bring you new (and consistent) business.
Here are four ways to develop your Networking Success for Income Increase.
- Grab your calendar & a spreadsheet: In your calendar, have you clearly identified upcoming networking engagements? If not, do so. There are tons of conferences and networking events taking place all of the time. Be strategic and investigative on when, where and WHO the event appeals to. This last point is key. Obviously, you want to be in a group dynamic that best serves your target appeal. Once you identify and research these groups, keep them logged in a spreadsheet so that you can easily refer to them. In your “admin” or down time, visit their websites for upcoming events and more details. Reach out, reserve your space if needed and show up.
- Set a weekly/monthly/quarterly/yearly networking goal: In your calendar, each week there can be a networking event. You are the best gauge for this. Clearly not all events are free and you don’t want to be everywhere the “networking door” swings open. However, two events per month would be the minimum I suggest. You want to be seen as an expert in your field, but also as a connector. From your spreadsheet, determine which events fit your schedule, budget and interest each week, month, quarter and yearly. Mark it on the calendar and in your budget allotment. You want to be consistent, as this is just one part of your marketing plan. (or it should be)
- Clearly articulate your ideal client and whom you best serve: Here’s where it gets good and the “work” comes into play for networking. Who is your ideal client? Who do you best serve? The answers to those questions should be clearly given and easily given in any conversation. Let’s be clear. I’m not talking about a canned answer. But, one that truly fits you and your business soul. This is key, so that whomever your speaking with will remember YOU to refer to someone else. So, if you don’t have your “ideal client profile” nailed down. Now is the time.
- Give Give Give: When networking, it’s not all about getting contacts, it’s about being a resource to others as well. You want to be a giver, so that it’s returned to you 100 fold. Additionally, you don’t want to be known as “that girl or guy” that just takes, takes, takes and never gives. Remember, it’s a relationship approach. Each person gives; therefore no one is left out. Additionally, by being the first one to give, you are setting the tone of the beginning of the new relationship. In a sense, you’re modeling proper behavior. Remember, you hold the key to your goldmine of resources. That goldmine is a solution to someone you meet. It’s a favorable position to be in.
When you implement these four strategies, your circle of influence will expand and so will our chances of increase. Action: Take out your calendar and determine two or more events you will attend for the month of June. How often do they meet? What’s the fee? Is it your best place to strategically mingle? Do you know your ideal client profile? Get clear on the latter BEFORE you arrive at the event.
Report back to me and let me know how it turns out for you. Diversify your network! **remember** when you’re networking, you never know who people know!