Those who are serious about building a network of professional contacts that can (and will) refer business cannot wait and let it occur by happenstance. They must actively plan to grow their network. If your New Year's resolution was to expand your visibility and your network, you might be feeling like 2005 is slipping away.
It is August. How has your network grown in 2005? Have you made new contacts? Have you grown and expanded your existing relationships? Are you getting referrals from your friends?
Even though the year is nearly two-thirds over (scary, huh?), it is not too late to refocus your efforts on networking.
My three tips to jump-start your database for the remainder of 2005 are:
1. Get out to at least two business events every week for the rest of the year.There are so many breakfasts, lunches, happy hours and dinner functions daily in every major city that nobody can
complain that there is no place to network. Search for events that are directly tied to your industry or that draw diverse and high-level attendees. Do not immediately discredit people you meet, as you never know who could become a referral source.
2. Schedule an early morning coffee or a lunch meeting four times a week. Try to have these with individuals or small groups whom you have recently met, or need to get to know better. Coffee is a great way to have a casual chat, and you can easily keep the time to about 30-45 minutes. I was recently in Seattle and set up a meeting with an acquaintance in the legal marketing profession that I have known for over a year, but never met in person. We had a great conversation and expanded our friendship. Fortunately there is a Starbucks on every corner in Seattle, so finding a convenient place to meet was easy.
3. Send eight follow up notes by mail or email to people you already know. Just because you already have developed a strong relationship with someone does not mean you can coast. You need to continue to reach out to the people in your network. Finding articles that are of interest to their career or hobbies is a great excuse to pen a short note. With the vast amounts of articles now on the internet and on blogs (like this one), finding relevant information is very easy.
If you take action now, then you can still grow your network in 2005 and set yourself up for a more successful 2006. Don't wait until the New Year to get back to networking.
Have A Great Day.