By Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon
What Will Networking Help You Do in 2013?
Vow to be a proactive – not reactive – networker. Set networking goals. Make things happen with your network:
- Develop business – even if you’re not in business development.
- Position yourself for a promotion.
- Create a constant flow of referrals and new business.
- Launch a project.
- Work cross-functionally to solve a problem no one else wanted to tackle.
Choose Your Groups
List any groups you are a member of. Note the role you play and the benefits you got in 2012. Do you want to STRENGTHEN your involvement or DISCONTINUE it? What action do you need to take to get the most out of the group? Join the Program Committee? Go to the national conference? Enroll in the Mentoring Program?
Find the Right People
As you think about your networking goal(s), make sure you have a team with the expertise you need. Rather than creating a random network, ask yourself, “Who can be the most help with this project or goal? Tip: You only need 12 to 15 to accomplish anything! Include these key players:
- An Expert with hot-off-the-press information, best practices, know-how, experience, subject-matter expertise.
- A Marketer with market savvy, customer or end-user perspective.
- A Backer who can give time, money, resources. Somebody who can marshal support, pave the way.
- A Wizard who can do magic, bring creativity, snatch ideas out of thin air.
- A Critic who will “tell it like it is,” ask the hard questions, give candid feedback, play devil’s advocate, challenge your decisions.
- A Cheerleader whose energy is infectious, who’s always upbeat, raring to go.
- A Guru whose opinion you respect, who sees long-term and big-picture.
- A Sarge who holds you accountable, reminds you of deadlines, pushes you to excel.
Productive people cross boundaries and build networks that are diverse in gender, geography, age, and function. Network to reduce stovepipes and silos in your organization. Arrange for a brown bag lunch meeting with a team or department you’d like to work more closely with. Take time for a quick update from each group on priorities for the year. What you can do to help?
Save the Date
Got a 2013 calendar? Schedule networking activities now. If you belong to a networking group or professional association, put at least 2/3 of their meetings on your calendar. If you don’t show up, you can’t reap the benefits. Plan to attend a conference? Put it on the calendar. Set monthly meetings/lunches/dinners with your allies (your most trusted advisors). The time you set aside for networking should match the importance of your goal(s). Perhaps you could designate Friday lunches as networking time or plan a series of networking coffeehouse meetings on those dreary February Saturdays.
Conquer the Time Crunch
No time to network? Then “piggyback” on other activities to fit follow up in. Invite people to join you as you exercise, volunteer, drive to meetings. You can squeeze a lot of “face-time” into your overcrowded life if you double up. And rather than just ask one person to lunch or for coffee, ask three!
Use any excuse to re-connect. “Isn’t it time for our quarterly lunch?” Or “…our annual lunch?” “We haven’t had a chance to catch up in a long time. How about sitting together at the next professional association lunch?” Or “I remember you like to see the new exhibits at the art museum. Want to go on Saturday afternoon?”
Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon are Co-Founders of Contacts Count. Contacts Count provides networking trainings and workshops, webinars and keynote addresses.