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Networking: A Black Hole?

January 13, 2014

Networking has become an overused and abused marketing tool.  While it certainly can help find new potential clients if strategically approached, it can become a time consuming black hole without a strategy.

Here are some key points to consider when contemplating attending a networking event:

  1. Do I like networking?  Some people love walking into a room filled with people they don’t know; others get nauseous at the thought.  If you are the latter, stay away from networking! Many other marketing tools exist that would be a better use of your time.
  2. Do I know who will be attending the networking event?  No shortage of networking opportunities exists.  When deciding whether or not to attend an event, determine if the other folks attending are your potential clients or business partners.  If the answer is no, your answer may be no as well.
  3. Approach networking in the spirit of giving.  As you meet folks at the event, find out about them first.  What do they do?  Who are they trying to meet?  What are their needs?  If your expertise does not align with their needs, play matchmaker.  Suggest others in the room that you have met that may be able to help them.  If there may be an alignment, suggest you arrange a follow up meeting or phone call (with a stated purpose) so you don’t monopolize their time at the event (or yours!).
  4. Don’t measure your success by the number of follow ups you have arranged.  One quality lead is worth more than 20 questionable relationships.
  5. Follow up!  Leads get cold quickly.  Don’t postpone follow up for a week or two.  Make your next contact within a day or two.

The other point to keep in mind is that you can’t always call it right.  You will leave events thinking that you have just completely wasted your time.  Even if you choose to not attend another event with that group, by following point 3 above, your time will pay dividends.

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