By Fred Siegman, Founding Member and LWCN's SME on Strategic Relationship Building
Many people attribute their success to networking, to the relationships they built that opened doors to opportunities. Do you have a plan, a strategy to maximize your networking results? Answering three questions, Why? Who? What? will transform your networking from a random activity, like working the room, into a strategic and effective process.
Why? Define your goal, the outcome you want from networking. The possible goals vary widely and change at different times. The most frequent ones are career advancement and business development. Others might include finding a new job, making new friends, pursuing a personal interest. You could identify 20-30 different possible goals which will influence the answers to the next two questions.
Who? Now that you’ve identified your goal, who do you want to meet that can help you achieve that goal? Very important, list your targets. It will give you focus. Your targets can be specific individuals or groups of individuals, for example, people in a specific industry, c-suite executives, a special interest group.
What? Now, create the strategy for connecting with your targets, in person or through other means. This relates to starting new relationships as well as enhancing existing ones. What direct or second connections do you have to your targets? Where will you find your individual or group targets? What words will you use to connect with targets? What will be your strategy for staying connected, beyond an initial note recognizing that first interaction?
Following the steps in this overview will make you more strategic in selecting where you choose to be. So, even the random connections you make will have a greater likelihood of being important additions to your network of relationships. As you practice strategic networking, it will become second nature. Your networking will become more successful, rewarding, and enjoyable.
Fred Siegman founded Siegman Consulting Services, Chicago in 1996. A lifelong Serial Connector®, his practice focuses on helping diverse clients seek corporate board of directors positions. Fred received an MBA from Chicago Booth and a B.S. from the University of Illinois Chicago. Learn more about Fred by clicking here.