I remember when I used to run around from networking event to networking event. I am pretty sure it was normal for me to knock out at least 10 meetings in a week. That effort is the reason I have nearly 10,000 contacts on LinkedIn, but when it comes to my sanity and enjoyment, I can’t give glowing remarks about my method. Fortunately, methods evolve.
Since I have spent over 10 years of my life as a professional networker, I want to share a few tips that will save you time, money and aggravation.
1. Less is more. Believe that quality contacts are more fruitful than quantity contacts. You can only truly invest in a certain small number of people and that is the only way you will get results. Networking means investing in others to help them. This takes time. Once you cultivate a relationship, you must nurture it. That takes time. Be choosey with who you start to invest in. Ask yourself if they are a win-win, meaning that both of you have shared goals and a pool of resources that will be beneficial to both of you.
2. Only become a member when you can fully commit. There are hundreds of networking organizations (civic, chambers, business development, etc.) in your backyard, I am sure of it. So how do you choose the right organization?
First, you need to determine your professional and personal goals. Once you have defined those, look for the one or two organizations that are able to help you fulfill those goals.
You might be thinking that this sounds selfish. Trust me, it’s not. Most organization have many ways to participate and you’ll need to participate to get the most out of the organization. Be strategic about your needs and it will be easy for you to choose where and how to participate.
You need to pour your time and money into organizations that will be able to pay it back to you. Please be choosey with what you join and once you join, be an active member.
3. Find the influencers. Once you are networking at the right events and pouring your membership time into the right organizations, find influencers and learn from them. You have seen how Oprah can endorse an author and make them an overnight success, right? Look for the Oprah’s. They know everyone and have a lot of knowledge in the space that you are interested in. Be choosey on who and where you focus your attention.
I hope that I have helped you save some time to spend with your family and the things you really love. Be a minimalist and only spend time investing in the right people and organizations – be choosy. Its all about making an impact, not counting the number of business cards or hours you put in. I know you know that. We all just need reminders.