Many business owners attend networking events with the sole purpose of selling people their product and services and without a clear objective or plan. To be effective in anything you do requires you having a plan. Networking is no different. To obtain the best results we must have a plan. We often hear that if we do not have a plan to succeed … we automatically have a plan to fail. To succeed in your networking efforts below are three (3) simple and effective steps to follow in order to develop your networking plan.
1. Determine your Purpose – The number one step prior to networking or attending any event is to determine your Purpose – Why do you want to network? There are several reasons why someone desires to network. The primary reason is to ultimately increase your sales. While this may be true for every business, if your sole purpose is to just increase sells than you will not be very effecting in your networking efforts. On the other hand, while the objective is to increase sales your purpose in networking should focus on building new “Relationships” or solidifying current relationships. We must always remember that people will do business with people that they like, know, and trust. Other purposes may include:
A. Build brand awareness
B. Exchange quality business leads
C. Obtain industry information
D. Learn business development skills
Defining your networking Purpose facilitates your networking efforts and will serve as a guide to which networking events and/or groups to attend or join.
My Networking Purpose is to _____________________________________________
2. Establish goals – Now that you have determined your purpose to Network, the next step is to set goals. In setting goals it is good practice to follow a commonly known concept called S.M.A.R.T. goals. When you follow the SMART concept of setting your goals than you are more likely to achieve them. Your goals should be
Specific – for example my goal is to develop five (5) new business relationships and solidify ten (10) existing relationships.
Measurable – for example my goal is to develop five (5) new business relationships in two (2) weeks
Achievable – In your mind your goal must be achievable. For example, if you believe that you may not be able to build five (5) new relationships in one day do not set this as a goal but rather change it to “build five (5) new relationships in two weeks or even a month”.
Relevant – your goal must be align with your purpose.
Timing – your goals must have a realistic deadline. For example my goal is to build fifty new business relationships by the end of December 31, 2013.
3. Take Action – The last step and probably the hardest for most, is to put your plan in action. Once your purpose is defined and your goals are set, prepare a daily or weekly game plan on what actions you will take to bring you closer to your goals.