« 14. How to have a strategy for your networking

By Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute; Author of "Business networking" (now out of print).

Build relationships with the people you meet.

What is it that you want out of your networking?

Do you have a networking strategy?

It is very important that you know what you want to achieve from networking. I have met a few people recently who seemed to have no idea. when I asked they simply said "Oh to meet people", or "It's good to get out of the office and socialise", or "Have some conversations".

This is too general. They could spend all their working day networking and never meet anyone who can help their business grow. They might as well just go down the pub with their mates.

In contrast, I have met others who have very specific goals to be achieved from their networking. They knew what they wanted but they were not sure how to go about it. They went along to a networking group but it wasn't necessarily the best one for them.

Your first task therefore is to decide on some quite specific outcomes that you want to achieve. The more specifically you can identify them the easier it will be for you to ask for the help you need.

Once having done this you need to work out the best ways to find these people.

Where do your target people go networking?

Where do they go networking? What conferences do they attend that you can also attend? How can you get invited to their specialist groups? Where else will you find them?

For example, I met a woman at a networking event recently. She was clear as to what work she wanted to do but she'd not been able to get a job in her area. She knew that the only way to increase the possibility of employment in her chosen field was to get to know people in local government.

She had come to a general networking event. There was no-one relevant to her there, except for myself maybe as I had worked in local government the previous year. However, this was in a different state. I suggested five other ways to tap into more relevant networks.

  1. The year I met her was the year for women in local government. I suggested she search out events that were being put on in celebration of this and go along. It could include conferences, seminars or other events.
  2. That she join any relevant local government associations. While she wasn't working in local government at present, she had in the past and she wished to in the future, so I thought she could convince people she was relevant.
  3. That she go along to the council meetings as they are open to the public in Australia. The reason for doing this was that the CEO and other executive members of the Shire/Town/City would attend and it was an opportunity to see them and get to know them.
  4. She had a specialist area of interest. I recommended she find other people already working in the same industry. What groups do they belong to? What seminars and information stall do they hold? What organisations do they belong to? Join the same organisations.
  5. Search out relevant people on LinkedIn and connect with them.

In this way she could not only have a specific goal but choose specific networking activities to help her to meet the people who will help her achieve her goal.

Develop your business networking and emotional intelligence

There is so much more to learn about how to engage people, how to develop high levels of emotional intelligence, and how to be brilliant at business networking so you build your business. We have only scratched the surface here. Would you like yourself or your team to be even more skilled at business networking so they engage the people who matter? You can. With us.

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