Your summer vacation is over, it’s time to prepare your Fall networking.
You are tanned, well rested and full of energizing memories.
You are also ready for your children’s back-to-school. The long list of school supplies is full of check marks. They have everything they need. Yay, you did it!
But are you ready for your back to work?
Back to work after summer means back to networking activities. As mentioned in this previous post, networking takes planning.
Just in time to prepare the final quarter, here are six steps to give you the motivation to align your networking activities to successfully finish the year successfully.
1. Review your year-to-date
Before ploughing through to achieve your goals by December 31, take the time to review.
What objectives are achieved? What initiatives are underway?
How can networking help you achieve what you set out to do? What activities have not paid off? Which were the most productive?
What did you want to broadcast and be known for? Review this previous exercise that helped you define your reputation in three words. Mission accomplished or needs improvement?
Reflect and evaluate. Write down why your successes, gaps and shortages.
2. Fine tune your goals
Are your January goals still relevant? Should you delay some deliverables or forestall some projects?
Check with your team, your superiors and suppliers.
Be realistic. Only assign and input what is achievable.
3. Select and align your activities
Based on your newly defined or reconfirmed vision, be strategic in filling in events in your calendar.
If you plan on expanding your customer base, explore new networks and groupings.
If you are exploring a new industry, perhaps there is there an association to which you must adhere. Find out from peers and search on LinkedIn or the web.
Often, the most effective way to meet new people or enter a new market is to get involved. Raise your hand when volunteers are needed. Donate your time and your expertise for an event, cause or association.
4. Have a game plan
Unless you just want to have fun and socialize with your community members, don’t register for an event just because you always go, know everyone and enjoy the happy hour food.
Even if you are on your playground, plan these couple of hours in good company. Be strategic. Think about the possible outcomes, leads and connections. Networking activities consume time and you know it, time is… money! While you are there having fun, your competitor could be elsewhere gaining new business.
If you have a reason to go — you want to connect with the speaker, a client asks you to be there, the event is open to non-members, you will have the opportunity to introduce your new products, etc. — by all means, sign up!
5. Initiate meetings or events
You have not yet received an invitation or nothing turns you on?
Create your own connection occasions. Be creative. The more your happening will be original, the people will be intrigued and the more people with come.
Invite your customers to: thank them for their loyalty, present new products, introduce team members, celebrate a prize and excellent results or throw a fundraiser in support of your favourite charity.
Invite a newly met person to get better acquainted. Request an interview with a leader or admired blogger. Personally, I’m always flattered and delighted when I get invited to share over coffee. As a bonus, it has regularly lead to a new work mandate.
Networking can also be done internally. Lunch with a colleague from another department. Learn what he does and ask how you can help make his job easier.
6. Practice and invest in your development
You don’t like networking too much? Join the club! Most people are not that at ease, either. There are few people who look forward to walking through a door to go shake hands and introduce themselves to complete strangers. But, like everything else in life, it networking skills improve as your practice them. All occasions are good to do so: your neighbour’s barbecue or sitting on the bench at the rink while cheering on your child.
Networking starts with knowing what you broadcast. Do you know what people say about you when you enter? Or what they say about you when you leave?
Increase your comfort with networking activities by participating in a training activity, reading a book, finding out what you send out and how you can increase your confidence and credibility.
Have fun building and maintaining your network. I wish you a great fall harvest of new and fruitful connections.
Want to learn how master your first impression, I invite you to our upcoming webinar Projecting confidence and credibility, which will take place on September 21 at noon, on your computer, tablet or phone. You will learn what influences perceptions and practical tips that you can practice right away, after the webinar. Register here.