Maximizing your Networking Efforts
by Eric Whittington, 4/12/2011 11:53:17 AM | with 0 comments
In theory, networking is pretty simple: join an organization, make friends, build relationships and ring up some new clients. But in practice, the hard part is knowing which organizations can provide a return on your investment of time and money.
Just about every industry has a wide range of organizations to join. Let’s say you’re a construction company looking to build more schools, hospitals and office buildings. You could conceivably join and spend on membership dues and sponsorship dollars with a long list of organizations where you might find decision makers in the education, medical and real estate fields.
But not all of them will prove useful to you. Some, for example, will be populated by members who lack authority to make or influence big-ticket decisions at their companies. Other organizations won’t offer enough opportunities for you to join a committee where you can work alongside potential clients on the organization’s business.
To make sure you’re spending your time and money with the right organizations, do some homework first and make sure you don’t end up in a group with limited potential for you to connect with prospects. Here are some tips:
- First, make sure the group is active and dynamic. You should be able to tell from a trip to the organization’s website, or perhaps an initial meeting, if there’s enough going on to keep members engaged and interested. If not, keep looking.
- Also, find out if there are plenty of active committees in this organization. Joining – perhaps leading – a committee, such as a program committee that lines up guest speakers, gives you the opportunity to take on responsibilities and impress the rest of the group with your work.
- Finally, join groups whose members rank high enough in their company to open doors for you and introduce you to business opportunities. A potential client company may be a member, but it won’t help you much if the person they send to meetings doesn’t have enough pull to steer business leads your way.
Do some research up front before you commit to an organization and you'll boost your odds of making useful business connections. Happy networking!