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Networking Done Right

While tools such as newsletters, LinkedIn, PR, and advertising can help keep your name in front of your target market, nothing beats the value of a face-to-face encounter. Traditional networking, if done strategically, is one of the best ways to stay top of mind and develop a web of solid relationships to build your book of business. 

 If you want your networking efforts to show results, don’t do it half-heartedly. It’s important to make a commitment to this aspect of business development, be strategic, and be proactive. Some tips: 

No Excuses: Sketch out a networking plan and get it down in writing. Your plan is something to hold yourself accountable to when you are lazy or using the excuse “I’m too busy.” Don't’ stop networking during busy times or you will lose momentum.

Be Strategic: Your time is valuable so you’ll want to identify strong groups that line up with your ideal clients and referral sources. These could be industry organizations, networking groups or alumni groups. Ask your current clients and referral partners what groups they are active in and where they find the most value.

Be Proactive: Join, set a schedule and get active. When you go to an event seek out whom you would like to meet. It’s a good idea to identify a mentor in each organization to introduce you around and show you the ropes. 

Follow Up: After you’ve met someone, follow up: connect on LinkedIn, seek them out at future events, email an interesting article,  call to meet for lunch or invite them to join you at an event. Make referrals—over time the more you make the more you’ll get.

Differentiate Yourself: It’s important when networking to differentiate yourself with branding. Have at the ready an interesting story that illustrates your expertise. Something memorable that helps you stand out from the crowd.

This all may seem daunting at first, but just keep at it and don’t get discouraged. It takes time to see results, so be patient. It’s all about building quality relationships that lead to the all-important “know, like and trust.” And who knows, you just might make a number of new friends along the way.