We all know that networking is an integral part of growing your business, but committing the time to build and grow your network can be a difficult for busy professionals.
Developing a networking plan can go a long way to help you prioritize your goals and make the best use of your time when it comes to networking. Your plan should integrate with your overall business strategy, it should be realistic and manageable, and it should be based on attainable and measurable goals.
The first step in creating a networking plan is to identify the organizations and the key individuals within those organizations that you’d like to develop working partnerships with.
Once you’ve develop your list, group these organizations/individuals into categories in terms of priority. The first group represents Networking Category A: organizations/individuals that have the potential to have a strong impact on your business and those you can help. The next group is Networking Category B: organizations/individuals who might be beneficial in helping you make other connections, and the final group are in Networking Category C: organizations/individuals who are contacts that are nice to have but may not have a the immediate potential to help you further your goals.
When creating your list, consider all the groups, people, and organizations in your community including:
- Non-profit organizations
- Private companies
- Athletic groups and organizations
- Arts organizations and groups
- Educational institutions
- Community groups
- Town and Municipal connections
- Provincial and Federal representatives
Here is an example to help you.
|Organization||What they do||How they can help||Networking Category|
|Karen Jones Consulting||Business & Economic Development Strategies||Develop business plan||A|
Once you have your priority list in place, identify potential networking opportunities within your community:
- Workshops and events
- Chamber of Commerce/Board of Trade events
- Breakfast networking clubs
- Societies and associations events
- Hospitality events
- Annual General Meetings
- Public meetings
- Product launches
- Festivals and shows
Finally, create your networking action plan. Your action plan could look something like this:
|Organization/Person||Contact||Goals||Timeframe||Networking Opportunity||Follow Up|
|Karen Jones Consulting||Karen Jones – Karen@karenjones.ca||Partner on business plan strategy||6 months||Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours||emailed on July 1st to request meeting.|
Prioritizing and creating a networking action plan is a great step toward using your time effectively in identifying and building potential mutually-benefiting partnerships. Remember to align your networking goals with your overall business strategy and to measure your efforts based on their success in achieving your overall goals.
Do you have a networking action plan? Contact the Karen Jones Consulting team to learn more.