“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”
I recently read that 80% of organisations ignore the benefits of business networking and all it can bring by NOT creating a strategic networking plan.
Remember way back in January we talked about using your enthusiasm for the new year and excitement about 2015 to create a new networking plan? If you need to refresh your memory, here is the link to the post about it.
Hopefully, you’re not part of that 80% and you have a networking plan you’ve been using for the past six months.
There were five areas we suggested you focus on when creating a strategic networking plan. As it is heading rapidly towards the end of financial year (did somebody blink??), it’s a great time to observe the impact of your networking plan and how it has been working for you.
Think of it as a networking strategy audit!
So, let’s revisit the strategies we suggested and this time I have included questions you can ask yourself to see what is working and what isn’t.
- Include networking in your business budget
How much have you spent on networking in the past 6 months?
Has it been worth it? How have you been tracking return on investment?
Have networking costs blown out or is there too little being spent on this important part of the business?
- Identify key networking groups that match your target market
List the networking groups (both online and event oriented) you are part of
If you were to give them a rating out of 10, how would you rate each group in regards to relevancy and relationship development?
Do you need to lose any and focus on a smaller more high impact group of organisations?
- Ask your staff to create their own networking plan
Have they done this?
Is their adherence to their networking plan part of their KPIs?
Have you caught up with each of your staff members regularly to check on their own networking experiences and observations?
Is networking on the staff meeting agenda?
Do members of staff present to their colleagues at internal meetings on their takeaways from events they have attended and people they have met?
- Consider non-business networks too
What relationships have you built through school, sporting, hobby, charity groups that are part of your daily life?
How have those relationships translated into business or opportunities for you?
List key contacts you have made that are worth following up and keeping warm
- Regularly review the quality of the contacts you make at each event
Have you listed contacts you have made at each event and rated their level of importance and usefulness?
Go back to point number two and revisit whether you are attending the right events.
Following that mini-audit, the next thing to do is to re-jig and revise your networking strategy for the next six months. Get it streamlined based on your experience of the last half of this financial year.
Do it as a team, workshop it as a group and chat through the pros and cons of the various groups, platforms and relationships everyone has made. Fresh eyes are great but doing this also sends the message to staff that strategic networking is important. A vital part of the growth of a business and the sustainability of an employee.
This will also flip the switch around from the way many (unenlightened!) people see networking - as an evil necessity rather than a positive and proactive streamlined strategy.
Positive and proactive. Streamlined and strategic. Now, those words sound like a pretty good way to describe a business, yes?
(And if you are a part of the 80% of business who don’t have a strategic networking plan, it’s never too late! Go!)
Get help with your plan today. Ask us about the Create & Manage Network Training in September.