How to Find the Best Networking Opportunities - Guest Blog by Joyce Feustel
One of the most common questions I hear from clients, friends and professional contacts is, “Who and where should I be networking?”
This question is so common that if you simply put that question into a Google search it yields over 5 million results. Yes, you read that correctly, 5 million!
I share this with you because it’s so common to question, who should I spend time, money and energy on while networking and where are the best places, events, etc that will yield the highest return?
With over 5 million results that can be an overwhelming place to start especially if you’re already feeling a bit stressed or uncertain about how to networking strategically.
If you know Joyce, you know that she is an incredible connector. For those of you who don’t know her you can trust me when I say that she is a gifted networker and she truly wants to help others when it comes to connecting.
Joyce was kind enough to let me use her blog as a ‘guest blog’ today so enjoy Joyce’s tips, advice and perspective below and a BIG thanks to Joyce for sharing this!
How to Find the Best Networking Opportunities
Participating in networking opportunities can be a terrific way to develop business relationships that can lead to referral relationships and/or more clients. Nearly 60% of my clients have come to me as a result of the networking I do in the business community.
Yet, your time is valuable, so even if a networking event or group doesn't have a cost associated with it, how do you determine if this networking opportunity is worth your time?
When and Where to Network
Have you ever found yourself exhausted after a networking event? If the answer is yes, consider the networking experience against these criteria:
Does it fit with your schedule, including the time of day you prefer to network?
How far away is it from your home or place of work?
What is the nature of the venue where it takes place?
Now consider your answers. Perhaps this specific event is too far away. Or maybe it’s at a time of day when you are not usually at your social best. It could be in a setting that is too loud or has other frustrating aspects.
Maybe there’s a different event you can try. Keep going until you find a few that really work for you.
Meeting/Event Format and Purpose
The effectiveness of any networking event will depend largely on what you want to get out of it. Maybe you primarily want to make more business contacts. Perhaps you are looking for lively discussions and brainstorming sessions. Possibly your main purpose is professional development.
Here are some questions to ask before you sign up:
What is the purpose of the event? Meaning, is its primary focus learning, volunteering, making connections?
How is it structured? What is the nature of the group’s leadership?
How many people typically attend?
What opportunities are there to meet other attendees?
What are your chances of meeting potential clients and/or referral partners?
Who Will You Meet?
What types of folks energize and interest you? This may be the most important question to ask yourself as you determine where to do your networking. Here are some things you can figure out at your first event:
Personality and style of attendees, e.g. upbeat people, folks with a spirit of generosity, people who are approachable.
Professional or business background, e.g. entrepreneurs, representatives from nonprofits, people who work in corporate settings.
Demographics or psycho-graphics, e.g. where they live, their age or sex, their hobbies or interests.
Make note of the answers to these questions while you’re circulating and use them to determine whether you want to return.
Commitment Required of You
What are the attendance requirements of a group that meets regularly?
What other rules does the group have? Examples could include bringing guests to the meeting, giving business leads to other members.
What are the ongoing costs of participation?
What other occasional costs tend to arise?
For a fundraising event, is there an expectation that you will make a donation?
I drew many of the concepts in this post from Stephanie Speisman’ s article “10 Tips for Successful Business Networking.” Find the entire article in the newsletter Business Know-Howat: https://www.businessknowhow.com/tips/networking.htm
If you'd like have a brainstorming session on possible networking events and groups for you, let's talk by phone or, email me at email@example.com
Founder - Boomers’ Social Media Tutor
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