After reading a blog that came my way through someone on Twitter, I pondered the writer’s advice. This person touts herself as an expert on networking and in fact is a networking coach. The article I read stated that above all else, the very best strategy in networking is to start your own networking group.
She offered several reasons among which were you can attract the right people, you can create the structure and oversee the rules. Those all make sense to me. However, her premise is based on believing that none of the existing networking organizations are adequate to create the desired networking results.
At this point, I would like to share with you a little about my networking creds. I started my coaching career, after selling a company I took from a struggling business to a multi-million dollar business, with a women’s forum and networking group, which I ran successfully for fifteen years. I was the Board Director for the National Association of Women Business Owners’ Networking Groups and helped develop a networking system for this organization as well as Committee Chair for Corporate Partner Development. I am currently the Director of another networking organization, the Chicago Business Club of America.
I am asked to speak regularly on the subject of networking and have coached hundreds of clients on successful networking. I have kindly been titled a “Networking Queen” by many of my dear, talented business associates. I have generally been regarded by many, I am told often, as someone who has a very broad network and has been generous in making innumerable business referrals and quality introductions.
I have seen many new networking associations get started and I agree that many are good, effective networking groups. So, why do we always need new ones?
The whole idea brings to mind that to start one’s own networking group is akin to taking ones’ marbles and leaving the game. Why not just become a better player?
From what I have seen, networkers would be happier with their networking organizations, not be driven to start their own and find their group more effective, if they would execute the necessary steps to become more successful. If you wonder if you can feel that you are winning more with your networking group choices, you might want to adopt the following steps:
- Clearly identify your target market – if you don’t have an absolutely detailed profile of the client you want to attract, you won’t find them and they will not be attracted to you.
- Research possible networking organizations – go online and find groups that have members who are good potential clients and great potential referral partners.
- Visit several networking groups to find those that you are aligned with in values, time, amount of work, and price commitment, with the structure of the group, etc.
- Get to know the leaders of the organization and ask for their help.
- Participate in committees and other groups that support members of the organization.
- Have a plan to identify your best potential clients and referral partners, and invite them to coffee/tea for a set amount of time and a mutual understanding of your purpose for meeting.
- Develop a system to categorize your clients and referral partners so you can identify the action you think is best to follow to bring about the best networking results.
- Refer others, refer others, refer others! Help others in your group as much and as best as you can.
- Follow-through, follow-through, follow through! Develop a system to monitor the result of your efforts. If you follow the first eight steps, you will likely be thrilled with these results. If not, tweak and tweak until you generate the results you want.
- Make business development a priority not just an offset of what you do for a living.
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