Blog Archive
strategy session

How to Build a Strong Network

We all get so busy with our day-to-day workload that it’s easy to push “nonessential“ activities like networking to the side. Then business slows down a little and we think, “Ok, time to step up my networking!” But by then it’s too late. It takes time for networking to gain traction and become a successful component of your marketing. 

 Here’s a blueprint for how to be consistent and highly effective in your networking efforts: 

  • Be strategic. It's simple, really: you want to be where your key referral sources and ideal clients are, whether it’s professional associations, networking organizations, or civic and charitable groups. 
  • Fill out your calendar.  Once you have joined a group, it helps to plot out the meetings you’d like to attend several months in advance (conferences even further out) and RSVP in a timely manner to ensure a full schedule of networking events. I create an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of all the meetings that I want to go to. 
  • Target whom you want to meet. Once you join an organization, target the individuals you would like to know. Look at the meeting RSVP list ahead of time and make a point of introducing yourself at the meeting. I’m a fan of the quality rather than quantity approach. While some people want to work the room and collect as many business cards as possible, I like to get to know people a little better and make a few key contacts in the process.  
  • Meet the presenters. If you are particularly impressed with a speaker at a conference or other event, walk up and introduce yourself, ask a couple of questions, and promise to keep in touchWhich leads me to my next point… 
  • Follow up! It’s important to follow up immediately with people you meet. Set up a lunch, ask permission to add them to your newsletter list, and send a request to connect on LinkedIn. 

Speaking of LinkedIn, there are several ways to build a strong contact base on this valuable online networking platform. Start by doing a search in the “People You May Know” section. Cross-connect with others in your company and their networks and also view your contacts’ connections to see whom you might wish to invite to connect. It’s important, however, to only invite people you know. Your LinkedIn network is supposed to become a strong base of contacts, not just hundreds of names.

Once you have built up your contact network, that’s only the beginning. Stay tuned for part two of this blog where I’ll lay out the various ways to stay top of mind and nurture these relationships.