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How Strong is Your Network?
Posted on 06-22-2010 416 Views
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I often hear clients and colleagues say that they wish they lived in or closer to a big city that offers many networking opportunities.
I count myself fortunate to live in such a city—and one that has a strong entrepreneurial presence—that offers countless networking opportunities. But to tell you the honest truth, I only belong to one local networking group for women in business. Why only one? Local networking is time-consuming and expensive.
I do, however, participate in many other forms of networking. Here are some examples of how you can network, without leaving your office:
- Yahoo Groups, Google Groups, et al: Hang out with your target market, competitors and colleagues. The secret lies in your participation.
- Online networking organizations: Most are fee-based, but there’s no need to get dressed, drive and spend money on a meal, cocktail or entry fee. The trick is to not only join industry-specific organizations, since they may be attended by some of your competitors. Join at least one group targeted to your clientele, rather than your peers.
- Volunteer your services: By volunteering your services to a charitable organization or to a company whose philosophy or product you admire, you gain experience and make valuable connections that you probably wouldn’t have otherwise. This gives you a chance to make yourself known to people you would like to work with, that are associated with communities, products or services toward which you want to expand your market.
- Past clients: Keep tabs on them and their industry. Is there someone in your network you can refer to past clients? This makes them more likely to remember you and return the favor. Execute an “appreciation campaign” designed to let your past clients know that you keep them in mind by sending out small promotional items, for example.
- Social groups: Do you belong to a club, social organization, family-oriented group, sports team, etc? Do they know what you do? Do you know what they do?
- Keep in touch: Make sure your contacts know where you’re at and how your business is doing by sending regular updates or even a newsletter. This way, they know your business is doing well and it inspires confidence if they should ever need your services in the future.
Remember, networking does not mean pumping business cards out to everyone you meet. Everyone knows someone else. Maybe their network contains your target client. The point is they can’t know if you don’t tell them, and remind them (subtly, of course). So go through your business cards, address book (personal and professional) and find ways to tap into the networking opportunities sitting right under your nose. Maybe you don’t have to live in a big city after all.
Copyright. Cristina Favreau. All rights reserved.
By: Cristina Favreau
Cristina Favreau helps professionals in the service industry get clients NOW! She makes marketing & self-promotion easy to understand & to implement. She starts at your level; usually after only one session, you’ll identify where you’re stuck in the marketing process & come up with immediate strategies to gain momentum & take immediate action. If you hate selling and you’re tired of working hard without results, schedule a free 25-minute “Marketing Turnaround” session at www.cristinafavreau.com.
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