I’m not getting anything out of it, so I’m taking my ball and going home.
Just because you go to a couple of cocktail parties and don’t get a new client or a new job, it doesn’t mean networking is useless. Notice the word hidden within “networking” is “work.” Ya, that’s not an accident. Done right,it’s a ton of work. It takes planning, practice, refinement, and perseverance. Not to mention, for some, overcoming a personal phobia. So if you’ve given up on networking, my guess is you never really planned it out or committed to it.
Here are a few simple tips and tactics before you restart your networking.
1. Establish goals and measures of success – what do you want to get out of networking and how will you measure it?
Here are my goals:
- Building new business.
- Connecting with A+ marketing execs.
- Building relationships with people I can count on.
Here are my measures:
For every networking event I attend, I get two clear next steps. A next step isdefined as an agreement with someone I’ve met at the event to reconnect at a later date to discuss an opportunity to help each other in more depth. Another next step is for me to help someone and the other clear next step is a revenue generating opportunity for me. I’ve spent years at the networking thing and have tracked my activity. I know my metrics; yours may be different depending on how much time you are dedicating but put something down, measure, and adjust.
2. Choose your networks wisely – Research the Board of Directors, past events, and member lists.
It’s easy to go to an event because the topic looks interesting or the speaker entertaining, but by going to different events hosted by different organizations you are wasting the most important aspect of networking, and that’s building relationships (see #3). Talk with current members before you jump in. This helps in two ways: first, it helps you to asses if it’s the right organization; second, it puts you in touch with the more active members, the ones who can accelerate your introduction to join.
3. Build relationships with members – This is the critical step; it takes time and a “give to get approach.”
You must be committed to lending your expertise and time to the organization or the individuals within. Take MENG as an example. MENG has unlimited opportunities to build relationships. You can do it by volunteering for the Local Chapter, Committees for the National Board, and by just offering help to other members. On the flip side, I’ve probably received more than I’ve given. As I mentioned in #1 regarding my goal of “building new business” – on an ROI basis my membership dues have paid for themselves by over 1000% every year. I have tons of examples but probably the most telling are the number of people in MENG I can reach out to and ask a favor of who, seemingly, drop everything to help. Pretty good measure of being able to count on someone.
Hopefully these simple suggestions and examples will help you re-engage or recommit to networking. If you’d like to start with a warm audience, feel free to connect with me ([email protected]).