Advanced networking strategies

You’ve heard it said that every business has a marketing plan. Even if you don’t have a marketing plan written down, that’s a marketing plan—though probably not as effective as a thought-out and plotted strategy. The same can be said for your networking. In other words, write out a networking plan.

The vast majority of people in networking groups—some who even have the audacity to write about it in an e-newsletter—don’t have a written-out networking plan. You may think, “do I really need one?” It’s a valid point, especially if you have had some success generating leads off your networking efforts. But it’s not a bad thought if you are looking to be more efficient in your efforts and tracking.

What could that plan look like? Probably, whatever you want it to look like. As stated above, what you are doing now is a networking plan. So, start there with something like:

Networking groups:
· My Pinnacle Network – meets first Tuesday of the month

Networking events (minimum of one per month; possible candidates):
• Attend Chamber of Commerce after hours
• South Shore Networking Group
• 508 and 774 networking group

Post-Networking (to be completed within 3 days after meeting or event):
• Add new contacts to address book
• Send follow-up note to new contacts
• Thank event host
• Set up one-on-one with current member or guests of networking group

This is just one scenario. It can be different for every networker. You may want to set up tasks in Outlook with reminders to help you stick to your plan. You may want to create some sort of spreadsheet to track these efforts. It really depends on your personal preferences.

The beauty of this exercise is the focus it brings to your networking. You may think of things you want to add to your networking efforts and haven’t—adding your networking group members to your e-mail list or connecting on LinkedIn. The power of writing down a networking plan takes it from just what you do to actionable steps.