Heather Townsend, Author of ‘The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking’, talks us through her Mumpreneur’s guide to building a profitable networking strategy. 

business networking
Make a plan for networking – photo by Shutterstock

Networking, whether you are attending a networking event, group or keeping up with events on twitter, regardless of how effective or efficient you are, is a process which takes up time. And time, which you could be with your family, having some quality time to yourself or running your business. In this article, I will be showing you how to save time when networking and improve your results at the same time, by implementing five simple steps to build a successful joined up business networking strategy.

Step 1: Set your goals and objectives

You wouldn’t dream of setting out on a 200 mile journey with two kids in the back of the car, without a good idea of firstly why you were going, and where you wanted to actually get to. It’s the same with business networking. Set your goals and objectives, before you start tweeting, posting or meeting people.

Step 2: Identify who you need in your network

When you are networking, you are only looking to meet two types of people – people well connected to your ideal client and ideal clients. These are my networking A-listers. It’s that simple really.

Step 3: Analyse the state of your network

There are three main activities in the growth of a productive network:

  • Building connections
  • Deepening existing relationships
  • Pruning connections

As a business owner you need to focus your networking efforts on the connections which give you the greatest rate of return – whether that is support, friendship, answers or new business.  It is impossible to keep every relationship strong and current, inevitably some people in your network will naturally fall away.

Think about your own personal network. Is it in a state to help you easily achieve your networking goals? What approximate percentage of time do you need to spend on building, deepening or pruning?

Step 4: Decide where you will meet the right people for your network

Once you have identified who you want to meet, and why you want to meet them, the next stage is to identify where you are going to meet them.

There is no easy way to find the best places to network. You need to be prepared to do your research and experiment with events and groups, as not every group, event or forum will work for everyone.

Step 5: How to measure your effectiveness as a networker

Successful business networking takes time, money and effort. This means that you need to measure where you are having the most success with your networking efforts – so you can replicate the things you are doing right and increase the effectiveness of your future results.

This is why setting networking goals and objectives BEFORE you start networking in earnest is so important. Because, otherwise how will you know when you are being successful? Or, how will you know when you need to change your networking mix of activities?

Once you’ve devised your networking strategy, the next stage is to write your networking plan and start networking!

If you have enjoyed reading this article, take the next step to successfully using networking to grow your business by buying your copy of The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking