Networking Road Map – first things first!
With the new Government Road Map in place, there is light at the end of the tunnel and the hope of face-to-face networking events and meetings commencing, by June 2021. So, now is the time to push forward even more with your networking activities.
There is often a temptation to hold back on marketing when times are tough, but those businesses that survive and thrive are usually the ones that focus even more on marketing. Not only has networking proven to be a great support mechanism, during the pandemic, but it is one of the most effective ways to market your products and services and reach out to your target market.
Naturally, there is some uncertainty, right now, which is understandable. Perhaps you are feeling optimistic about the future and cannot wait to resume a ‘normal’ way of working. A lack of marketing, usually means no sales, so networking is crucial if you want to create word-of-mouth and get referrals.
Developing A Networking Roadmap
Are you thinking about the way forward and what you want to achieve with networking?
What are you doing to focus on who you need introductions to and how you are going to reach them?
When NOW is a good time to be networking effectively? I don’t just mean attending online networking meetings and events; I mean really putting a concerted effort into building relationships, getting referrals and winning business.
Networking objectives is often overlooked. As networking is part of your marketing mix, you need to set yourself clear objectives. What exactly to you want to achieve?
You may want referrals worth a certain financial value. New potential suppliers may be another goal for you. Perhaps forming strategic partnerships is of interest to you. There may be other objectives that are important to you. Whatever your objectives are, include them in your networking roadmap.
My advice would be that each time an objective comes to mind, ask yourself, ‘so what’. So, what does that mean? This way, you’ll really hone in on exactly what your networking outcomes need to be and why they are important to you and your business.
I often hear people talking about the cost of networking. You may have a particular budget that you would like to stick to, which is useful. However, please remember that networking is an investment! It’s not uncommon for the actual results to far surpass what people expected to achieve. That said, it is important to work out the return you need from your investment, too.
Your Target Market
When you’re developing your networking road map, really think about your target market, who can help you with introductions and what message you want to portray, then take massive action! You could be reaping the rewards of your road map sooner than you think.
When you’re thinking about your target market, if you have not gone one already, try and build a customer avatar, so you know exactly who you need introductions to. This will enable you to convey how your networking associates can help you with referrals. If you’re unclear about building your customer avatar and how to reach out to people, do get in touch with me, and I’ll be able to help you.
Next, consider how you’re going to make contact with people. Whether you’re attending a regular referral based networking group or you’re attending ad-hoc non-committal networking events, this will result in targeted networking. Like with all things in business, a targeted approach gets superior results.
There will always be pros and cons of different types of networking This may relate to expense, time, availability, or geography, for examples. When you’re deciding what type of networking is right for you, contemplate these before making your networking choices.
Networking Short Term Plans
Set some time aside to plan your networking. As a rule of thumb I tend to do this monthly. I have my BoB Clubs networking meetings, but I attend other ad-hoc networking events too. It’s about what suits you and what’s right for you.
Whatever you decide to do about planning, just make sure you do it. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our businesses that we don’t prioritise planning, but planning your networking activities will make a massive difference to your outcomes.
Do some research about what networking is available and suitable for you. Ask around and find out what other people recommend. Attend a few different types of networking to establish what is right for you, then commit!
In my experience, making a commitment to join a networking group or attend certain events regularly is what makes the difference between mediocre and outstanding. People need to see you, hear what you have to say, learn about you and trust you before they will refer their precious contacts to you. Familiarity is key to building relationships when networking.
Always remember that ultimately when networking it is what is right for you that counts. No amount of planning can prepare you for how you feel when you attend an online networking meeting or face-to-face. There will be an element of trial and error, but once you’ve worked out the right kind of networking for you, you’ll know what to include in your networking road map.
Always remember to have fun when you’re networking too! Yes, goals, planning and strategy are important, but so is enjoying networking.
I hope you found this networking skills blog useful. If there is something in particular that you would like me to write a blog about, contact me and I’ll cover that topic for you. You may find these podcasts useful too.
Very Best Wishes,