Like any relationship, building a mutually-beneficial association takes time. Many people view networking as a series of one-shot appearances at as many events as possible. If no instant sales connection is made, they move on.
As part of an effective marketing strategy, successful networking requires a commitment – to joining multiple networking groups or organizations and attending their various events — regularly. Networking is about not only meeting new people but interacting with those people on a repeated basis.
People who give you work or refer you to others might do so when they get to know and trust you. And that takes time — maybe a year or two.
If you’re serious about networking – and about building relationships that can prove valuable to your business — figure on establishing an active presence in three to five groups. Attend the monthly meetings, the socials, the dinners; participate as a speaker, become active on a committee, join the board or write the monthly newsletter. The more you put in, the more you’ll get out.
The first step is to visit multiple networking groups, meet the members and see where you – and your business — might best fit in.
When selecting your networking focus, try to determine if:
- Members could give you work
- Members can refer you to their clients
- Teaming opportunities exist
- You could refer members to your clients
- Your participation will be helpful to the group
Once you’ve decided which groups you think best fit your networking plan, commit to making those relationships work. As with any relationship, the most successful ones are built over time, not overnight.
Martha Spelman is a Los Angeles-based small business marketing, branding and social media consultant. To find out more, click here.