The 3-Phase Approach To Strategic Networking
We’re going to talk about strategic networking. Not just any networking, but strategic networking! Here is a 3-phase approach to doing just that.
In a nutshell, what are the three phases? First, there’s a pre-phase or a pre-event phase; This is what happens before you get to the event or what you should be doing before you get to the event. Second, there’s the event itself. And then third, there is the post-event or what should happen afterward.
Typically, we often see a breakdown in networking effectiveness and networking strategically in the outside phases, the pre-event and the post-event. Now those who have been around me for a long time know that I’m a firm believer that nothing happens in business without people. Therefore, the more strategic you can develop and nurture your relationship with people, the more success you will experience.
Phase 1: The Pre-Event
Let’s talk about the pre-phase. What do we mean by the pre-phase? We’re talking about number one, figuring out what you want and setting goals. What do you want out of that networking event? It could be a one-on-one conversation with one person; it could be something you are doing online on any social media site; you could attend any trade conference or seminar or something like that. Anywhere you are going to bump into people. It could be the grocery line. The idea is you need to be thinking through what you want from that experience.
Do Your Homework
If you know you are meeting someone particular, you should do a little bit of research on them. Google them! Just type their name in quotes in Google and find out a little bit about them. Or if they have a LinkedIn or Facebook page check them out there too. Learning a little about that person will help you communicate and connect with them when you are actually in conversation.
Rehearse As Needed
Along with the research and setting of your goals, rehearse a little. If you are uncomfortable and nervous, it is good to rehearse. If you have to stand in front of a mirror or a video camera, do whatever it takes to get you to feel more comfortable engaging with people. Now for some of you, this is not a problem whatsoever, but for many of you, it may make sense. The idea is to get some practice. Practice does help make you more perfect!
So now we are researching, we are rehearsing, and setting goals. We’re building a plan! We know what we want to accomplish as a result of networking at that event.
Phase 2: The Event
Execute With Excellence
Then we’ve got the main phase—the event itself—this is where you need to execute. You need to pull from everything you planned through in the pre-phase. You need to execute with the intent of really connecting with this person and finding out if there is a bond.
Determine What’s Next
If you do have a bond with someone, see what is next. And if there is a next, what is it exactly? Lay that out with that person so that it’s not like, “oh, we had a great meeting today; we just met for an hour,” and now you never call each other again.
If you want to take it further, make a plan. Set some things in action. Do whatever it takes. If it makes sense, break out the calendars, and put another appointment on the calendar.
Phase 3: The Post-Event
Now we are going to the post-event phase. I’m a big fan of saying the power is in the follow-up.
Let’s face it; if you don’t follow up with the person after that, chances are you really wasted your time networking with them. Unless, of course, they weren’t worth following up with, and that does happen too. Nothing wrong with that. At least you know, but if there is any reason for following up or following through, make sure that you are doing that in the post-event phase.