Networking for a Living in an economic downturn

 

It is a fact that the markets are unstable and the banks are having a hard time and people are getting laid off.  There’s not a lot we can do about that, but we can each ensure that our own value is promoted in a way that means we each have the best possible opportunity of success in these tough economic times.

Recently, I have been working with a few people who are looking to raise their game in terms of effective networking.  They’re each doing it for their own reasons, but the outcomes they all seek are very similar and it struck me that it doesn’t really matter who you are or what you do, effective networking is the same.  It doesn’t matter what market(s) you’re active in and it doesn’t matter how senior you are, the basic rules of effective Networking for a Living are the same.

Ultimately, it’s all about Reputation in the Marketplace – building a credible online presence and a network of advocates who are “spreading the word” and recommending you to their networks as an expert in your domain.

So, with this in mind, I thought it was a good time to recap some of the basics of effective networking...........

Firstly, you need to understand why you’re networking and what you want to get out of it.  There are so many sites and so many meetings that you could spend all day, every day, networking – a great way to be busy doing nothing!!

Networking means many things to many people – if you asked a few of your contacts how they defined it, you’d probably be surprised at the range of answers you got.

The key thing is that your strategy needs to align with a clearly defined and understood set of measurable objectives that will give you the results that are important to you. 

Second, (and following on from above) you need to identify the areas where you’re going to focus your effort – where are you most likely to find and engage with people who will have an interest in what you do and, therefore, most likely to advocate or do business with you?

Restrict yourself to a small number of activities that are most likely to deliver tangible and measurable results for you and your business.  This is as much about time management as it is about effectiveness in your marketing mix - spread yoursef too thin and you'll achieve nothing and spend a lot of time doing it.

Third, create a mix of both on-line and off-line networking.  As well as connecting with people from across the globe via cyberspace, you need to meet some of themface-to-face, because it is these relationships that are most likely to yield tangible results.

It’s also important to mix the types of networking site you use, so that people get a more 3-dimensional understanding of who you are and what you do.  For instance, use LinkedInfor your professional profile, Facebookfor a more personal approach and Ecademy, Xing or one of the others to bridge the two and add an extra, more personal, dimension to your business networking.  Equally, if you have expertise to share with the world, create a blog (like this one) to share your knowledge, skills and experience with people.

Lastly, you need to be consistent – your efforts need to be consistent, your personality needs to be consistent, your core messages and core values need to be consistent.

In upcoming blogs I’ll expand on each of these areas and explain more about them and how to go about it -  the next Article can be found here "Networking for a Living".

In the meantime, if you’re able to, I’d thoroughly recommend an upcoming series of seminars by Andy Lopata, which covers the strategy aspects of networking in great detail. 

Andy's blog http://networkingandreferrals.blogspot.com/ has some great insight and his half-day seminars, describe the essentials of creating a networking strategy that will work for you – I recommend these as excellent value for money!!