Structured networking is an amazing concept. To speak to a group of 20, 30 or 40 people and have them all listen to you, even for just a few seconds, can be the best thing you do to promote your business. (It can also be the worst thing you do, if you offend people, sell to the room, fail to say anything interesting or any number of other networking ‘sins’.)
I’m particularly interested in networking as part of the marketing plan. It is not always easy to plan for the ad-hoc events that come up, but there are lots of structured meetings that you can plan into your schedule and be strategic about it.
I’ve recently joined 4Networking, which is the UK’s fastest-growing networking organization. They have a ‘passport’ where you can attend different groups and you can go along as many times as you like – up to 4 times a week! My main reason for networking at the moment is to increase visibility. I then go meet those people I think are the most interesting and build relationships with them.
Obviously I will be abiding by the REAL Thought Leaders rulebook and make sure my message is compelling, well thought through and relevant. In addition to thinking about the content, you also want to be strategic about spreading the net – in REAL Thought Leader terms, exactly how do you want to go about extending your reach?
With that in mind, I’m just wondering how many groups to visit and how often. How many new connections can my brain handle without starting to forget people or get them mixed up? If it were you, how would you do it? How many groups can you realistically be part of, how many new people can you realistically meet and get to know and how much time do you spend on it?