Networking is an over-used word, I actually think if you're in consistent contact with someone, you're actually building a relationship. When done right, it doesn't really feel like working at all (I've found), and can be an entree into having some of the most wonderful relationships. Truly, the best networking is relational, not transactional.
Networking will help you to:
- Find potential clients and/or strategic partnerships
- Develop name and face recognition
- Work smarter, not harder
I classify networking as "marketing activities" and what goes under that umbrella is: coffee, lunch, drinks, dinner, sports events, actual networking events, office visits, etc.
How many people do you need to be in relationship with to have a full business, to reach your goals on a consistent basis? Each week, I advise setting a weekly marketing activity goal, broken down as follows: X number of total events, X number of new people, X number of 'no's'.* For most of my clients, they will plan to attend 5-10 events, meet at least 3-5 new people and get at 1-5 no's from someone who meets the criteria in their ideal client profile. For some that's not nearly enough (one does 15 events per week, meets with 10 new people and gets a total of 10 no's. Some of your "events" will include one-on-one conversations that are truly about just getting to know someone better. Remember: we all want to do business with our friends (people we know, like and trust) and we're more likely to give business to our friends, refer business to our friends and promote our friends.
If you're don't have enough business (yet), then you probably just need to get into relationship with more people, make more friends. Spend some time determining who you want to develop a deeper relationship with this year and then get those events on your calendar!
*If you're wondering why I'm adding "no's" to the list, then you don't know about the phenomenal book Go for No! Find info on it here and you can buy it here.