By: Jennifer Robinson
Since my business is networking, I am either attending events, scheduling networking phone calls or having one on one meetings constantly. But a lot of my clients don't. I hear things like, "I just stopped networking for awhile because I didn't feel it was getting me anywhere" or "I just had too much actual work to do for my business and that's why you have not seen me out at events for several months." So how do you make sure you stay consistent with your networking and happy at the same time? Here are five tips:
1. Make realistic plan and stick to it
For example, tell yourself I will attend one networking event and set up one "get to know you" meeting per week. Then stick to it. Don't do less when things get busy-it is so important with building relationships to stay consistent. On the other hand, don't do more. Become selfish with the rest of your time.
2. Make it convenient
I have started trying to tack on networking meetings to other events at the suggestion of a friend. If there is a monthly business networking event I know I am attending and someone in that group wants to meet, I ask if we can meet before or after the event either at the same venue or at a coffee shop nearby. This way it is not cutting into another day of my week and I know it is convenient for both of us because we are already going to the event.
3. Prioritize your new connections
While in theory you never know what can be gained by following up with every person you meet, in reality you need to prioritize your contacts and try to set up meetings with the people who you either connected with instantly on a personal level or are potential collaborators/partners for your business, or potential (but targeted) consumers/clients of your product/service. Use your instinct.
4. Don't attend networking events in a bad mood
If you've had a very hard day and are not feeling up to talking to a room full of people, don't do it. Save it for a day you are better rested and have a better mental mindset. You never want to make a bad first impression. Don't force it.
5. Mix it Up
Try to go to some non traditional networking events. Find a new group on Meet Up that shares an interest of yours and go meet up! Attend a book club. Go to a group class at your gym. Attend a seminar at your local library. It is just as easy to meet new people at any of these type of events. You don't always have to be at a business card exchange to network.
Jennifer Lynn Robinson, Esquire is a litigator turned entrepreneur following a life changing near death accident. She conducts speaking engagements and workshops for companies, conferences, non-profits and groups on issues surrounding networking and relationship-building. She also works one on one with people to help them be more comfortable and strategic with their networking efforts. Jennifer lives just outside Philadelphia, PA with her husband and three rescue dogs.