Great networkers use a consistent, planned methodology for success.
According to The 29% Solution-52 Weekly Networking Success Strategies, by Ivan R. Misner and Michelle R. Donovan, professionals should devote at least seven hours per week strictly on networking activities.
Effective networking is not just socializing and attending meetings, it is about building connections and relationships.
Try the following suggestions for planning your networking strategy:
- Set networking goals – Make them S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timed) with a deadline. For example, “I will join the Chamber of Commerce by the end of the month.”
- Block out network time – For impact, spend four hours per week on networking activities. Then, build up to seven hours over a period of time. Carefully track the time you are spending. To change your behavior and do more, follow this four step plan-Want it, Learn it, Try it and Live it. Like everything else, there are no shortcuts in networking.
- Give to others first – Networking relationships can develop when both parties gain from it. When you give to others (professional assistance, material, help, time, encouragement), people will be inclined to give back to you.
- Stop being an office/cubicle dweller – If you stay in your office/cubicle, you’ll never build a strong network. Mingle. Be around people. Introduce yourself.
- Become “Magnetic” – Find common points of interest with people you meet. Engage others intelligently. Overcome your fear and shyness of making the first move. Smile. Say “Hello”. Just do it.
- Adopt a host mentality – Arrive at network events early. Map out the meeting room. Introduce attendees to each other. Act in a host manner.
- Meet the right people – Build a broad and deep network. Your positive attitude will bring people to you. Think about contacts past and present.
- Reconnect with people from the past – Use social networking to begin to build and reinforce your bonds with others.
- Follow-up – A contact won’t become a connection unless you stay in touch.
- Read the newspaper and professional magazines – Be on top of your field. Be ready to share your knowledge with others.