Below is my latest article to appear in Magazine Soho.
Without focus, your networking success will be limited. Try to think strategically about networking and your end goal. By having a plan ready, you will be more focused and you will better understand what you need to do to reach your objective.
What’s My Need?
When a need arises for most people, we immediately start to think about ways to fulfill that need. Networking is one method people use.
To help you relay your need to others, you want to make sure you have a focused and prepared message. Put together an elevator pitch. This is a short summary of who you are, what you do, what you’re looking for and how you can help others.
By creating an elevator pitch, you will force yourself to think strategically about your objective. Instead of attending networking events for no particular purpose, you will now have an understood reason to attend.
Who Do I Want to Meet?
Once you understand your need, the next step is to think about the types of people you want to meet. Think about how people can help you, so you have a reason to talk with them when you make your approach. Also, try to think of ways you can help them so you will be able to build a mutually beneficial relationship.
By having a clear understanding of whom you need to meet, you will be making more effective use of your time at networking events. As a result, you won’t have to talk with as many people. You will be focused on quality rather than quantity.
Where Do I Find the Right People?
Now that you understand your need and the people you should meet, you have to find out where to meet them. Spend time researching industries, events or organizations, so you know where to locate your target group.
Many sources exist to find events and organizations. Search your local market for event calendars, organizations, chambers, businesses and charities.
Once you find an organization of interest, read the Web site to determine if you should pursue the group. To meet people, go to events, call board members or get involved. If you know who will be attending an event in advance, then do some research on these people and their companies.
How Can I Help Others?
Part of your elevator pitch is designed to tell others how you can help them. Keep in mind that one of the most important aspects of networking is helping others.
Think about how you can add value to others by understanding your skills, business knowledge and resources. While talking with people, pay attention to their needs so you can offer your help.
By helping others before you ask for help, people will get to know and trust you. As a result, you will have a network of people you can count on to help you reach your objectives.