3 Proven Tips to Make Networking More Effective

Get Results Instead of Wasting Time

Is your networking effort rewarded with new clients and partnerships, or is it ineffective and frustrating?  Do you hop from group to group hoping to find the right people, but end up exhausted and discouraged?

That’s how I used to network.  For months, I got dressed up every day to drive all over Denver to attend meetings.  I paid multiple membership fees to secure my spot as the ‘one’ industry member in select groups.  I met nice people and collected cards, but it didn’t lead to new business.

​That all changed when I learned that effective networking is a business system. Everything in business can be systemized – marketing, sales, operations, money, and people. A repeatable system, when followed, produces consistent results every time.

Here’s the process I used that transformed my networking from guessing to enrolling.

1) Consolidate and Target Your Networking Time

Choose 1 or 2 days per week and designate them as ‘networking days’.  No more running from place to place throughout the week. Save non-networking days for doing the other activities in your business such as writing, phone calls, planning, and working with clients.

Once you pick your day, identify groups that meet on that day that are the best fit.  This means they are your target clients and/or know your target clients and can be great referral sources. Then, be committed.  Attend regularly so people get to see and know you. Consistent attendance leads to consistent new business.

2) Create Your Action Plan for Each Meeting

It’s fairly easy to know who plans to attend an event prior to the meeting – especially if the group uses Meetup.  Scan the attendees and determine who you want to connect with at the event – both as potential referral partners and potential clients.  This ensures you meet specific people versus randomly just chatting with whoever you encounter.  Here are 7 Tips for Networking from Entrepreneur Magazine that can help you be more effective as you work the room.

​If an attendee list isn’t available and the event follows the 30-second introduction format, listening carefully for people you’d like to meet. My goal is to meet 10% of the room (up to 8 people per event), and have a memorable conversation with each person.  When I exceed that number, I found it’s difficult to remember people and the quality of my relationships drops

3) Diligently Follow-Up

I always request a business card from every person I meet.  After the event, I follow the 24-7-30 system.  Within 24 hours, I invite people to connect on LinkedIn.  I add a personal note stating where we met as a reminder.  (Hint: Create a generic template invite to save time, then customize it with the person’s name and event where you met to make it personalized).

Within 7 days, I invite these people to a meeting to learn more about them. Usually, these are phone meetings since they are more efficient for both parties and can be scheduled quickly.  Occasionally, I do meet in person when our calendars align.  My preference is to talk as soon as possible so we connect while the event is still fresh in our minds

​Finally, I find a way to connect every 30 days.  Sometimes this means catching up during the regular networking cadence.  Other times it means a phone call, text, or handwritten note.  It doesn’t matter what you choose.  The most important thing is to have a system of regular touch points that works.

Modifying my networking to follow this system dramatically increased my business results.  It was so much more effective than haphazardly attending groups that weren’t a fit for my business and wandering around.  By batching my days to just focus on networking, I was in the right state of mind to build connections and be fully present. With a specific follow up system, I regularly stayed connected to grow my business.     

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Nancy Gaines

Nancy Gaines is CEO/Founder of Gain Advantages Inc. and has been advising small businesses and Fortune 100 companies how to increase revenues through proven systems for almost two decades. She is a best-selling author and international keynote speaker. Nancy has been named in the Top 100 Productivity Experts to follow on Twitter and has a global podcast downloaded in over 70 countries. Her main focus is creating business processes with actionable steps so her clients achieve more consistency, ease, and ultimate success.

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