Networking is more than just attending events and gathering up a stack of business cards. When thoughtfully prepared in combination with your business goals, budget, and marketing strategy, your networking strategy can take your business to the next level.
Consider how these questions impact your business and networking strategy:
- How can networking move you towards accomplishing your business goals? It’s very likely you’re going to need clients, referral partners, or stellar employees in order to meet your goals for 2018. Establish your networking goals with these people in mind. For example, a goal could be to have coffee with one potential referral partner each week. Not everyone will pan out into a regular referral source; however, making initial contact with a variety of individuals will increase your network in order to provide and deliver on client requests. Remember, you are going to have multiple networking goals throughout the year depending on what you’re looking for and based on the event you’re attending.
- How much of your budget is set aside for networking? In reviewing your networking budget, consider event admission prices, food and drink purchases, and networking materials, such as business cards, flyers, etc. Don’t forget to include a fund for follow up meetings, such as lunch or coffee meet ups. Depending on the size of your budget, you may also host or sponsor your own networking event this year! No matter the size of your budget, there are plenty of FREE, low cost, and creative ways to grow your network. Check out these past blogs for ideas, including the use of social media and FOLLOW-UP.
- How can your marketing strategy enhance your networking efforts? In developing your marketing strategy, you’ve considered your audience and social media platforms. These same considerations can have an impact on your networking efforts. For instance, tailoring a networking goal for a specific audience based on the event. Specifically, if you’re looking to fill a position within your organization, your next networking event may be attended through the lens of a hiring manager. Make sure the event audience is appropriate to meet the needs of your goal. In terms of social media, not only can you connect, engage, and promote business news and happenings, but you can keep track of your colleagues or competitors. Remember, social media is a two-way street, so be sure to like, share, and comment on posts as appropriate.
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