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How to create a networking plan
For many people a networking plan looks something like this… attend 2 networking events each week, make at least 5 new connections… but which networking events should you attend and who do you want to connect with?
By Brenda Thomson
Let’s start with a question?
Do you attend networking events because you want to find people to sell you things?
Probably not, if you need something you are likely to ask your existing network or your social media connections who they recommend, rather than go to a networking event on the off chance that you will happen to meet an appropriate supplier. Your chances of success are MUCH higher by doing a Google search.
On the other hand most people think of networking as a strategy for “finding more clients”. Off they go to a networking event with a stack of business cards and their yellow pages ad stuck on their forehead in the form of their sixty second infomercial, looking for people to sell to.
But if nobody is there to buy and everybody is there to sell (or at least with the hope of a sale in mind) what are the odds of a WIN WIN?
So let’s look at a different question.
Who would you rather meet?
- A potential client OR
- A potential alliance partner who could connect you with tens, hundreds or even thousands of potential clients.
Obviously the second.
For example if you are a naturopath and you are looking for more clients you might decide that a great source of leads would be health food shops. So one of your networking objectives would be to connect with the owners of health food shops in your local area, or the people who can introduce you to the owners of health food shops in your geographic area. You may meet potential clients along the way, but how much better to meet a lead source than a lead! These are the people you want to meet at networking events.
But what if you are not in the market for new clients right now?
Even if you are not in the market for new clients right now you can still use your networking activities to connect with people who may be able to help you in other ways. In my experience EVERY business goal, strategy or challenge can be achieved more quickly, easily, affordably or profitably with input from other people in some form or another, ranging from referral partners to mentors (and every business owner should have at least one mentor!). 0
- Now go and review your business plan, goals and strategies for the year (you do have them don’t you?).
- For each goal and strategy in your plan ask yourself the following question: Who (this could be a specific person or a category of business, industry or profession) could help me to achieve that goal or implement this strategy more quickly, easily, affordably, profitably and so on?
Now write down a list of people who may be able to help you.
Once you’ve worked out who it is you want to connect with and why, you are 90% of the way towards creating your networking plan. The last step is working out where to connect with them.. with that question answered you have created your networking plan.
Until next time…
More articles in the Synergy48 Group Networking Resource Pack
Where should I network?
Who do you want to meet at a networking event?
What are strategic partnerships and why should I care?
Seven steps to effective networking follow up
How to evaluate the effectiveness of your networking efforts
CEO and Founder, Synergy48 Group
Brenda has an honours degree in organizational psychology and a Graduate Certificate in training and development and she is an experienced trainer, facilitator and counsellor. She is a firm believer in mutual collaboration combined with a practical, hands on tools, strategies and systems as the most effective way to achieve real results in business.
Brenda has over 20 years of experience training in communication, team work, time management, productivity, organisation and strategic planning in large organisations. She is also the developer of the Business Benchmarking Toolkit used by Synergy48 Group members and clients to identify areas for improvement in their business processes.
Brenda is a sought after mentor, speaker and trainer in the areas of strategic partnerships and networking with a difference. She is passionate about actively giving back to the community. In addition to donating her speaking fees and a proportion of every Synergy48 Group membership to provide microfinance to help women in Malawi to start their own businesses, Brenda has climbed the Himalayas to raise money for Kids Help Line and helped lay a pipeline to supply water to a remote village in Tanzania.