My friend, Deanna Tucci Schmitt and I did a podcast on Talkshoe.com (Episode 17) recently. It may be available to listen to, although I had difficulties at the end, pushing the "stop recording" button. Technology and I just don't get along! Anyway, that's NOT what this post is about.
It is about what we discussed. Our ditty was entitled Networking Goals. The way Deanna and I prepare for these podcasts is that we have a quick conversation as to who is going to lead (the darling) and who is going to learn (the doofus). On this one, I was happy to take on the darling mantle!
Below are some steps that we discussed that can help you to make your networking work for you in the year to come.
1. Create a spreadsheet-type calendar all on one piece of paper with the months across the top and the name of each organization or group you attend down the side. (Rebecca Booth, Marketing Goddess, has a great example of this at her website.) Each square will correspond to one month and one group. Within each box, draw hash marks for each time you will attend the group within that month. (For example, BNI members will have at least four hash marks per month. Some chambers only meet once per month, so that square would have one mark.) The reason for doing this is to create a visual map of all the organized networking you will do in the next twelve months. Because some groups do not meet during the summer, you might see blank spots in the calendar. Knowing about these ahead of time means that you can plan other networking or marketing avenues during those times. Planning is the word to remember.
2. Now take out your appointment book and mark all the meeting times as appointments. As a new year begins, many times we forget to transfer the meeting times and dates to our new schedule. With electronic calendars, recurring appointments may have been set to end in December. Be sure to adjust those end dates so you don't miss any networking opportunities.
3. Accurately forecast your marketing budget. Yes, you know how much the dues cost for each organization, but what is the real expense. As a supportive member of each group you will be expected to participate in events that are spread out through the year. For example, if your professional association plans one large trade show per year and the cost of participating is $500 (plus the expenses associated with "stuff" you need for the booth) you'll need to add that $500 to the budgeted amount for that organization. Or if your group plans three events per year with a $50 ticket attached, you'll need to add $150 or $300 to the budgeted dues. The larger amount would be if you plan to take a guest with you to each event, which is probably expected.
4. Develop a written list of members you want to get to know better. After all, the reason for belonging is networking. This step will help you to know who to schedule appointments with, which will put those above marketing dollars to work. Networking is all about developing relationships and you can't do that by being just a face in the crowd. To make this even more efficient, insert the names of people on your list into each month. This will help you to have a plan for inviting.
5. One more list! This one is for people you'd like to invite as visitors to your groups. Again having the list will help you to plan ahead, making the calls to invite in advance. Those prospective visitors will have find time for these meetings on their busy calendars, too. Taking guests with you to meetings brings more value to the group and you are seen as a positive resource. Selfishly, it gives you the opportunity to build stronger relationships with your guests, too.
Using the five above steps is a way to organize and be ready to network with the best.
What steps would you add?