Do you have a networking strategy?

Networking is one of the most effective ways to win new customers or clients, discover new talent, meet new referral sources, and generally stay in touch with developments in your industry and marketplace. 

It takes time and commitment to build up and maintain an effective network, but in our experience these are resources well spent.

As with so many aspects of business life, it pays to approach networking in an organised, strategic manner. Take the test below to see how you rate as a networker:

  Yes No
Do you prepare for networking occasions by setting specific goals rather than just waiting to see what happens?    
Do you attend such occasions equipped with something to give to everyone you meet (a contact, some information, some useful advice, etc)?    
When you meet a new contact do you go out of your way to make them feel at ease?    
Do you actively listen to people, rather than using their turn in the conversation to think of what you're going to say next?    
Each time you meet a new contact do you deliberately say or do something memorable that will help them remember you when you follow up?    
When you are handed a business card do you take the trouble read it straightaway and acknowledge receipt with a positive remark, rather than just slipping it into your pocket?    
Do you keep a database of contacts that records when you met, areas of potential interest, and so on?    
Do you categorise the people you meet into potential customer or client, potential referral source, or potential associate?    
Immediately after a networking occasion do you follow up all contacts both old and new with a written or verbal communication?    
Do you have a strategy for cultivating contacts over a long period?    
Do you have a personal ban on explicitly trying to make sales at networking occasions?    

How did you score?

Award yourself one point for every 'Yes' you checked:

10-11 - Outstanding! Personal contacts contribute significantly to your business success
7-9 - You are pretty good at working a room, but could still brush up on a few skills
4-6 - You are probably missing out on potential profit opportunities - remember, no matter how good a conversationalist you are, without a strategy and some planning your networking will be less than 100% efficient
0-3 - Time for a rethink! Remember that networking opportunities offer more than a chance to attack the hors d'oeuvres. Think about what you really want to achieve from a social event, and devise a plan to meet those goals

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