Probably the biggest waste of time I see lawyers, accountants and consultants do with their business development, is network without a clear purpose or strategy. It isn’t helped by many firms asking their people to sub in for another person at the drop of a hat. Having a personal networking strategy that you can use to guide you with your networking activity is probably one of the biggest ways of saving business development time.
Over the next series of blog posts, I will take you step by step through how to create your winning networking strategy.
What is a networking strategy?
So, what do we actually mean by a networking strategy?
A networking strategy details how you will achieve your goals via your networking activities
A clear and concise networking strategy will allow you to make the decisions as to ‘what’ networking activities you will do, i.e. your networking plan. If you implement your networking plan, you will, if it all goes to plan, achieve your networking goals.
Now, that we have clarified our networking strategy, it’s useful to think of what we actually mean by effective networking. So, many folks equate effective networking with working the room. ‘Working the room’ is just one of the tools in your networking kitbag.
Effective business networking is the process of finding, building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships.
It is this definition, which will provide the framework, for the rest of this blog post series helping you build your successful business networking strategy.
5 stages to creating a networking strategy
There are five stages to creating an effective networking strategy.
- Goals: Create your networking goals – i.e. what do you want to achieve as a result of your networking activities
- Audit – i.e. assess the suitability of your current network, networking activities, keeping in touch strategies etc, to help you achieve your networking goals.
- Find – i.e. who do you need to meet, and where and how are you going to meet them. Will you bump into them on LinkedIn, Twitter or by becoming a member of BNI, or any other business networking group?
- Build – i.e. what will you do to progress the relationship from just a name, to a deep, strong and high beneficial relationship? How will you choose who to progress the relationship? What will be your criteria for ‘A, B or C-listers’ or which introducers will be in your ‘inner’, ‘middle’ or ‘outer circle’
- Maintain – i.e. what will you do to keep your relationships ticking over? After all, if your network never hears from you or sees you, the relationship will gradually wither and die. This is your ‘keeping-in-touch’ strategy.
If you complete each stage, the your networking plan will almost write itself. To re-emphasise, the difference between your networking strategy is:
Your networking strategy tells you ‘how’ you will achieve your networking goals.
Whereas your networking plan is what you will do on a daily, weekly, monthly basis and the projects/campaigns you will run to achieve your networking goals.
In tomorrow’s blog post we will look at the 1st stage of creating your networking strategy – identifying your goals.