Clarifying your networking objectives 2021
Given that your initial list may be dozens and dozens - or even hundreds and hundreds - of names long, you can’t afford to waste time when you are networking. If you try to talk to everyone on your list, you will quickly get swamped. So you need to priorities your list.
Clarifying your networking objectives
Given that your initial list may be dozens and dozens - or even hundreds and hundreds - of names long, you can’t afford to waste time when you are networking. If you try to talk to everyone on your list, you will quickly get swamped. So you need to priorities your list. Divide a fresh sheet of paper into three columns with the headings:
Then allocate all the names from your original list into one of the three columns, based on whether you think they may have information or access to other people who may be able to help you. Then start to get in touch with the ‘useful’ names first to avoid wasting time.
Before you start to get in touch with people, you have to think about how your contacts can help you. Only a minority of these people - if any - will be interested in your services. You certainly don’t want to annoy them by pushing your services on them. However, you can ask for their help -
they can give you information or introductions to other people:
- Asking for information. First think about the questions that you want to ask them. Perhaps you want to find out about trends in the market, for example, ‘Is there more demand for organically grown fruit in the larger towns or the smaller villages?’ Perhaps the person on your list has run a business of their own and could offer you advice - ‘You used to work as a freelance writer, do you have any hints or tips on how I could approach editors more effectively?’
- Asking for introductions. Although information will help you out, it is introductions that will eventually lead you to customers.
Preparing to talk to people
If you network effectively someone will eventually ask you ‘what do you do?’ Answering the question is an opportunity for you to start the sales process. But you have to be careful not to talk for too long - otherwise you’ll risk boring people!
So you need to think about a 'blurb'- a short description of you and what you offer. Briefly, your blurb must include:
- A phrase or word that encapsulates your service. For example, are you a ‘management consultant’ or a ‘business adviser’ or a ‘business strategist’? Choose a phrase or word that other people will be able to understand easily.
- A brief description of the benefits that your service offers. For example, a business adviser might help people put together business plans. However, the benefit is that his or her plans ‘avoid the pitfalls that cause many people to go bust.’ Similarly, a decorator decorates - but the benefit is that he or she ‘saves you time and money by doing the job properly the first time round.’
You might also want to write out different versions of your blurb. For example, if you meet someone who is in a similar field of work you might want to include more technical details, whereas someone who knows nothing about your field might need a more generic blurb.