I appreciate that this may seem a rhetorical question, but honestly ask yourself what your is goal when you are out networking. Are you just out for the socialising in the hope you may meet someone that may need your business or be a useful contact? Progressing on from our last Networking 101 post on how to filter prospects from suspects. You need to have you a plan of action with clearly defined goals and strategy for your networking or else your activity will be haphazard and a waste of your valuable time, as you will only be grazing in the networking pastures of suspects.
If you haven’t already, set yourself some goals for your networking activity.
Ask yourself the following 3 questions:
- What are you trying to achieve with your networking?
- Who do you want or need to meet?
- How will you know when you have achieved these goals?
I can assure you that if you can answer these questions clearly you will be on the road to networking with a purpose. Remember the main reason why some people achieve their networking targets is that they are absolutely clear about their goals and objectives and do not deviate from them.
What defines and differentiates a networking goal from a business development goal? Are your networking goals your business development goals? Unfortunately not. Many people either don’t have networking goals or they assume they have networking goals because they know their new business targets. Your networking goals need to be very specific and with this in mind you should be able to achieve your business objectives.
For instance a networking goal to generate £5k of business via your business network every month is not a networking goal, it is a business development goal, in order to create a networking goal to achieve your business development targets you need to think about the activity that needs to be achieved to generate this return. It is simple really, your networking goals should contain reference to your network.
Here is an example of how you can map this out.
- Goal 1: By Q1 in Year 1, I will have generated new business via my inner circle and top 3 clients.
- Goal 2: By Q2 date in Year 1, I will have added 5 more A-lister to my inner circle from my top client introductions.
- Goal 3: By Q3 date in Year 1, I will have delivered a minimum of 5 client and new prospect workshops.
- Goal 4: By Q4 date in Year 1, I will have a minimum of 10 new clients from my networking activity.
The more specific your network goals, the easier it is to focus on your efforts. Remember, a failure to plan is a plan for failure.
The Sales and Marketing landscape has changed drastically in the past few years with the growth of Digital and Social Media. Therefore the time has come for you to look at your existing new business acquisition strategy and brush up or improve your existing networking skills. In the coming weeks we are going to provide you with valued insight in to how to Network better.
Promotional Products will provide you with no better means to help you network effectively, and well thought out collateral will make you stand out from the crowd. Business Cards, as good as they are in encapsulating all of your relevant details, still end up in a box in a drawer. Where you want your name and message to live is ‘front and centre’ on people’s Desks, in their Cars, Bags and/or Homes. Promotional Products will give your Brand that exposure as long as they are relevant and useful.
Tip 1: Do you know who you want to meet – How do you filter Prospects from Suspects?
Not everyone you meet will be important or relevant to you and your business going forward. What you need to identify is who are the most important people for you to meet, and then organise and communicate with them accordingly.
A simple classification system is a good place to start.
A List: These are contacts that are well connected within your industry, business community, and are likely to help you immediately or quickly achieve your business objectives. For instance they may become an advocate of your brand, become a good source of referrals, an introducer or potentially a new client.
B List: These are contacts that you have met and enjoyed their interaction and you will see them around and about at various events, but they are unlikely to immediately help you achieve your business objectives.
C List: These are contacts that you meet, but are very unlikely to have any impact on your future business activities.
Remember this system is different for everyone and should be applicable to your individual needs and can if required have additional lists. Once you have built a system that works for you then you can actively employ this classification system when you are out networking and manage your interactions accordingly. For instance an A List contact could receive a promotional goody that you have taken with you; a B List contact will receive a business card; and C list people may not even receive anything.
Remember not everyone is going to want to do business with you and in turn, you will not want to do the same. So once you have identified and understood this, you can begin to employ a system to filter out the prospects from the suspects. This will help you become a better networker and help you building better business relationships with those who will potentially become mutually beneficial contacts to you and your business.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”