networking strategy VOL-200 KD-4 CPC-8.00
Creating an effective networking strategy involves five steps.
If you read any site or book about networking, you will hear that you have to get a networking strategy or purpose to network efficiently. However, how many times have you seen an article taking you step by step through how to make your media strategy? Or one that is solely focused on the special requirements of coaches?
Everyone, if we realise it or not, is networking all the time and has got their own network. Let us be fair here, networking is just the process of communication to another person, be it via a telephone call, email, letter, face-to-face assembly, Twitter, site comment or Facebook status update. However, when I use the word’media’, what instantly comes into mind? I bet it is not anything related to LinkedIn! So many coaches equate networking with operating the space. Not just any old area; one filled with strangers, topped off with dread, dread and some hot white wine and curled up dry sandwiches…
In fact, working the area is only a small portion of effective business networking. Successful small business networking is the practice of finding, building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships. It’s this definition that offers the framework for designing your personal networking strategy.
“A clear and concise personal networking strategy will permit you to make the choices as to’what’ networking activities you will do, i.e. your networking plan. If you implement your media program, you will, if it goes to plan, reach your networking goals.”
If the definition of successful business networking provides the frame for your personal networking plan, what exactly do we really mean by a media strategy? A networking strategy details how you will achieve your goals via your media activities. A very clear and concise private networking strategy will allow you to make the choices as to’what’ media activities you will do, i.e. your media plan. If you implement your networking plan, you will, if it all goes to plan, achieve your media objectives. It’s this absence of a joined up, well thought through personal networking strategy which leads to a lot of coaches failing to network effectively.
There are five phases to creating an effective networking strategy.
Stage 1: Create your media targets – i.e. what do you need to attain as a consequence of your networking activities. Are you wanting to win new business? Locate other coaches to collaborate with, or find your next role?
Stage 2: Audit – i.e. evaluate the suitability of your current network, networking activities, keeping in touch strategies , to help you attain your networking objectives.
Period 3: Find – i.e., who do you have to fulfill, and where and how are you going to fulfill them. Will you bump into them on LinkedIn, Twitter or by becoming a member of your regional CIPD branch?
Period 4: Build – i.e. what are you going to do in order to advance the connection from just a name, to a deep, strong and highly beneficial relationship? How are you going to choose who to deepen the connection with? What will be your criteria for’B, A or C-listers’ or that introducers will be on your’internal’,’centre’ or’outer circle’? How will you define what you mean by an’internal’,’middle’ or’outer circle’?
Stage 5: Keep – i.e. what will you do to keep your relationships ticking over? After all, if your network never learns from you or sees you, then the relationship will gradually wither and perish.
Should you finish each phase, your networking program will almost write itself. The difference between your networking strategy and media plan is:
Your media technique tells you’how’ you will achieve your media objectives, whereas your networking program is what you may perform on a daily, weekly, monthly basis along with also the projects/campaigns you’ll run to achieve your media objectives.
In another article in this series on building a personal networking strategy, we will have a look at the first phase in the process – defining your networking goals.