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How Effective Is Your Networking Strategy?

YOU DO HAVE ONE, DON’T YOU?

My guess is you have a marketing plan or strategy which will include two headings such as corporate events and advertising organising seminars, pens with your company’s name, the list goes on.

Do the words “networking activities” feature? You will quite rightly argue that corporate events and seminars could be included under that heading. That’s fine, but what return do you get from your investment in both money costs and time expanded? How much time do the hosts spend talking to each other, staring at the guests across the room too nervous to cross the room? Whenever you are spending money and others come into your corporate home ensure you give them an enjoyable and memorable time. The simple instructions to all hosts is – treat our guests exactly the same way you’d treat them when they come to your private home.

OUTSIDE NETWORKING

How much attention is given to the whole strategy of networking? My experience tells me most firms leave the whole process to each individual or departments to allow them to do “their own thing”. Maybe it’s time for a rethink?

WHO?

As someone who trains people in networking skills, I believe anyone can become effective networkers. But leaving that aside you will know there are those who will be naturally good at it and those who would rather simply sit doing the work. Concentrate on the first group and encourage them to be out there hunting for new business opportunities. There are 2 “who’s”;

The “who” from your firm i.e the ambassador for the brand is one, the other “who” is who should these people be targeting?

WHERE?

People who are specialists in particular industries should belong to the associations e.g. if your people specialise in the particular industries, ensure they attend as many events as possible where groups particularly meet their exhibitors at the conference seminars.

For the generalists they can network anywhere as long as they always follow up after spotting a business opportunity. Where there are people, there are opportunities.

WHEN?

Business  meetings are arranged literally morning, noon and night. Which time of the day is good for each individual? It will be useful to know this. When you find this out, direct the right invitation to the appropriate people. It may well increase the percentage of acceptances.

WHY?

It is important the professional know why they should be out networking. Here’s a short list – perhaps  the professional marketer needs to remind and keep reminding them. It’s because they need to:

  1. raise their profile and the firm they represent
  2. remind people that they and their firm are still about
  3. keep in touch with the marketplace
  4. get others to know who they are and what they do
  5. build new relationships
  6. renew old acquaintances
  7. keep their ears and eyes open for new employees and suppliers
  8. ask people they know to introduce them to others they want to know
  9. as the legal world becomes more competitive
  10. as everyone else is doing it

IN SUMMARY

Consider putting the network strategy agenda on the marketing agenda for the next meeting.

Networking is word of mouth marketing. Marketing is a numbers game. The more people in your firm go networking, the more people they meet, the more relationships they build, the more opportunities they might spot. When they make the follow up call, it may lead to more meetings where more business can be transacted. Ask your key people “for every 20 invitations going, how many do you accept?” Tell them if they don’t go, they’ll never know.

The author of this article is Will Kintish, leading UK authority on effective and confident networking both offline and online. If you’d like Will to speak at your conference or training workshops, call him on 0161 773 3727. Visit www.kintish.co.uk and  www.linkedintraining.co.uk for further free and valuable information on all aspects of networking.

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