So, now the question is: How do you fit it into your already busy schedule?
First, you’ll want to further narrow down the events / groups you’ll go to.
- Pick just one group to attend a week.
If you can make time to go to more or if networking is a high priority activity, then find a couple to attend. The main point here is to prioritize which group you attend.
- What is the travel time?
If you’re picking between two groups that both feel like a good fit, then give the one that’s closer a slightly higher priority, at least initially. Later check out the other one and decide which one is the best fit for you.
- Which group appears to be a better match for connecting with your ideal client?
This can be difficult to determine for a group you’ve never attended. Which brings us to:
- Go a couple of times!
Yes, some groups you might go to and know in the first five minutes that it’s not quite for you, but generally, going twice will give you a good feel for the group.
Are you wondering how the heck you’re going to find two or more hours to do this?!
- What are your three main goals for the week?
Make sure those things get done and don’t get lost in the minutia (Facebook, Twitter, email, anything you find yourself checking multiple times in a 30 minute period that has nothing to do with the task at hand).
- Prioritize networking!
Fact is, networking is an important marketing activity (make sure you read the next two articles for tips on how to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your time!).
- Know exactly what’s already on your plate.
This allows you to decide what you want to devote your time to – it allows you to be a bit more strategic with your time and not get lost in the things that can wait.
If you’re just starting out, networking can feel like a really frightening thing. On the way to one of my first networking meetings, I remember feeling nervous, scared and looking for legitimate reasons to turn my car around and head back home. I made it there anyway. And felt awkward and wondered if I was doing it right most of the meeting. However, the group was very nice and inviting. And I ventured out again to that group the next month and was welcomed. And over two years later, I still attend that group whenever I can.
I’ve had many more good networking experiences than I’ve had bad ones. And yes, I have been at groups where everyone was more interested in talking with their friends than meeting new people, but those are the exception and not the rule.
So, my question for you is how do you (or will you) pick places to network? One that I mentioned or something else? Let me know in the comments below!