How to Get the Most from Networking Groups

Do you need to become part of a group, chapter, club, organization, association, cell, community, or tribe to be successful at networking? Of course not, but it helps. A lot!

Networking is simply meeting or contacting someone in an effort to get connected to those that can help you reach a goal. That goal could be getting more business, learning something, or landing a job. Of course, the best networkers help others get what they want so they can help you get what you want.

See how that works?

Naturally, you can “network” by simply making phone calls and sending emails from your corner office to clients, COI, friends, family, and countrymen – all well and good. But by joining (and becoming active) in a group that aligns with your values, you stand to be more successful at making more and better connections. Here are some ways to help you make that happen!

Have the Right Attitude
Your attitude goes beyond just being friendly to those you meet – although not everyone you meet will be friendly. This seems like common sense but occasionally I’m reminded that it’s not. Not long ago, I had lunch with someone who had no problem speaking negatively about people that I know and respect. He even began insulting my marketplace (yes, financial advisors). The guy that introduced us was horrified. If you don’t want to be that guy, stay positive, ask engaging questions (about them!), and focus on ways of helping. And watch what happens!

Meet the Fearless Leader
Who is in charge? The Executive Director? Meeting planner? VP of Marketing? Director of Membership? Corporate sponsor? If you’re not sure (you could always do a search ahead of time!), just ask! Anyway, it’s always great to meet the one in charge. Why? Because they know almost everyone and you want them to know you! Get to know them and get an understanding of their objectives so you can offer to help. Once you do this and they like you, they’ll be more inclined to help you right back!

Be Specific about Target Marketplace
You don’t need to have a defined marketplace but again, it helps. Rather than saying, “I’m looking to meet anyone looking for a financial advisor…” you might say, “I’m looking to be introduced to owners of manufacturing companies like XYZ Manufacturing as I’m developing a niche with mid-sized manufacturing companies in greater New York City.” Of course, if this is the case, you may be thinking about attending and ultimately joining an association focused on the manufacturing industry. See how smart you are?

Communicate
Be prepared to talk about the type of business (or job) you’re after by being as specific and clear as you can. (See above!) Don’t focus on how you do your work (most don’t care – unless they ask you) but instead, put emphasis around your goals. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Let me say it another way. Everyone knows someone that talks in great detail about their work but you walk away from the conversation having no idea what that person does. C’mon – we all know someone like that! Don’t let it be you!

Social Media
By becoming active in networking groups, you can become much more targeted with social media. No doubt most groups these days have virtual groups on Linked In, Facebook, and other online platforms. Even my gym has a great online group where members talk about how tough the class was, how great a trainer is, or when the next beach party will be. Let what you’re doing offline drive what you could be doing online.

Follow Up
Following up is simply following through on a promise made. If there was no promise made, it might be difficult to get back in touch with those you met at a given event. Simply establish your intentions when you’re still face to face, assuming there’s a good connection (as in you like one another and see the value of staying in touch). If you don’t look to reconnect and develop a relationship, it’s like you never met in the first place.

Volunteer
Get involved! Networking is not a spectator sport! Those that tend to be movers and shakers at events tend to put the same energy into their work – not a bad thing. Once you get to know the lay of the land, offer to volunteer your services. Serve on a board, join a committee, heck – start a committee! If you do a great job in service, it will pay you back tenfold!

If the focus is always on developing positive, mutually beneficial relationships, the business will be there. But it does take work. Continue to help, stay in touch, and be interested.

Most groups kick off in September so do your homework now!

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