hands holding cogs together - represents an effective networking strategy

Create a Winning Business Networking Strategy in 5 Simple Steps

Create a Winning Business Networking Strategy in 5 Simple Steps

“It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.”

And the more people you know, the more support you can get and the more opportunities you can create.

We often talk about how The Networkers is a light-hearted, support focused networking organisation. While that is true, and many people benefit from having a supportive yet fun group to attend, to get the most out of any networking opportunity (including your networking group) you need to have a bit of strategy.

1. Set your Goals

Much like any other strategy, your networking strategy needs to start with goals. What do you want to get out of your networking events? We recommend you keep an open mind, as there are many different types of events and groups that are beneficial for many different reasons.

Your goals might be:

  1. To learn more about business or your industry
  2. To get support for you in your business
  3. To find new suppliers or contractors
  4. To get more customers or clients
  5. To meet new people

TIP: Don’t forget to make sure your networking goals are SMART goals!

2. Find your Networking Niche

Different types of networking events work for different people and different industries. Part of your networking strategy rests on choosing the best networking event for you, which depends on your goals. While we find that people who are looking for more holistic support come along to our networking meetings, we also know that there are people out there that much prefer other networking organisations due to their individual focuses, and there are people who don’t want to attend regular meetings at all!

If you’re an introvert, try a networking group where you can interact in smaller groups and have deeper conversations with fewer people. If you’re in a highly specialised industry, try attending industry-specific networking events, or events that appeal to your ideal clients.

3. Have a plan

You don’t HAVE to have a plan, but it sure makes creating your networking strategy easier! Your plan should be derived from your goals. Planning what level you’re going to connect with people, how you’re going to receive and give information to others, and even how you’re going to present yourself, will make the networking experience much more enjoyable (and help to remove any networking nerves).

Things you might like to include in your plan:

  1. Elevator Pitch – a short explanation on who you are and what you do. Learn how to make one here.
  2. A good handshake – people instantly trust others that have good handshakes.
  3. What information you want to receive – figure out some questions you want to ask that’ll help you get one step closer to your goal.
  4. What information you want to give – create a short speech of the things you want to say when you’re connecting with others. If you can bring visual aids, e.g. photos, physical stock, or informational documents, these can also be beneficial

4. Take Time to Build Relationships

Serial business card collectors and dispersers are a regular occurrence at networking events. We hate to break it to you but just going around, handing out your card isn’t a great networking strategy to get new clients. Networking in New Zealand works best when it’s not transactional; it works best when it’s trusting and relationship based. 

People work with and recommend those that they trust, and building trust requires work, connection, and patience. When creating your networking strategy, we suggest you include some ways to build trust with the people you meet. If you go to networking meetings, try making time to get there early, or stay late to continue talking to people. Organise meetings or phone calls with those you meet at networking events and become deeply interested in them, their business, and the support they need.  

5. Follow Up or Fold Up

You’ve been to your networking event and you’ve collected all these cards. Now what? You can choose to either chuck them in an unused drawer of your desk and never let them see the light of day again, or you can make use of them. Following up with your networking contacts develops the relationship further and gets you one step closer to your goal. Giving them a phone call, email, or Linkedin message keeps you top of mind, which helps them to remember you.

Just a reminder: someone giving you their card does not give you permission to put them on a mailing list. Always make your follow up contact personalised, and from there you can ask if they’d like to be added to your mailing list. 

Your networking strategy doesn’t have to be one of those in depth strategies with a bunch of action plans. By simply identifying your goals, finding your preferred way of networking, planning what you’re going to say, building relationships, and following up, you’ll create a strategy to get the most out of your networking opportunities.

Want to start working on your networking strategy?
 Contact us today to find a group to visit!

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