Strategic and Productive Networking Tips

1. Dare to Dream. Determine your vision for yourself, your business and your career. Don’t limit yourself. Think big.

2. Develop your plan and commit to it on paper. Outline the strategies that you will use to move you towards your vision and write them down. Include estimated timeframes.

3. Share your goals and objectives with your trusted key supporters and friends.

4. Take action. Strategies are useless unless you take the necessary steps to execute them. Work your plan:

  • Give. It’s good for you and good for your brand. Give of your time, resources and services. Offer to help others. Volunteer in the community. Give generously and with a positive attitude.
  • Stay connected. It is important that you stay in touch with people — particularly those who are your supporters. Expand your networks by attending events and forums, luncheons, coffee meet-ups, etc. Enlist the help of your network in order to achieve the milestones of your plan.
  • Network productively. For your networking meetings, be clear about what you want to accomplish. Start with learning about the other person first and identify ways you can be helpful to them. Clearly articulate what you are hoping to accomplish and provide specific ideas on how they may be helpful to you.

5. Create a financial plan. This is a very important component of any strategic plan. Without the funding, your dream will not be realized. Get your financial house in order and establish a budget. For example, it may take 24 networking luncheons (two per month). The person who makes the invitation generally picks up the tab, so factor these and other costs such as conferences, dinners, communications, business supplies, airfare, etc. into your budget. Research the costs of your plan and identify the appropriate funding sources. You don’t want your fabulous dream to turn into a financial nightmare!

6. Diversify your network. It’s okay to start with people you know. Ultimately, you want to move to “who knows you.” Expand your network outside of your comfort zone. Get to know people of different races, genders, classes, etc. In our increasingly global world, these relationships will be a source of strength.

7. Celebrate milestones and stay focused on your goal. Working on a dream can be hard work. When you achieve an important milestone, pause and celebrate that accomplishment. Share it with your network and your supporters. Don’t pause too long. Continue the journey. Keep the vision fresh and keep moving. Stay focused on the goal!

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