I am about to share with you something that I talk to people about a lot. It is focused networking.
In each business, we have a target market or the perfect prospect. If you have been in a particular business for any length of time, you should know what type of person or business owner falls into this category for you. If not, it is time to figure out who this might be.
In networking for business it is important to have a well rounded networking schedule. You should attend many different types of groups in order to reach a broad spectrum of people. If you only attend a business after hours, you may run into several people who provide the same product or service as you. In this environment, it is important to know what makes you different from them. In most cases this is not a company thing, but a personal thing. When you have reached the point that you can relate what makes you different, you will do very well in a competitive environment.
One of the groups that you are likely to attend is a trade association. In my first exposure to networking many years ago, I attended meetings for a group that specialized in the creation of multimedia. I went to the meetings each month in the hope of building a relationship with others who might be able to help me find some work in the field. The opposite happened. I found myself in the ultimate competition. I should have been there to learn about trends in the industry and to get background information of my competitors, there was literally no work to be had in an environment with all of my competition!
What happens if you attend the trade association meeting of your target prospect? It is likely that you may be the only person in the room selling your product or service. If you do your homework before you go and discover the mission of the group, it is easier to prepare for that kind of opportunity.
In this environment, you may be sitting through a presentation by a speaker that you know nothing about, so to maximize your networking opportunity, arrive early and leave late. Talk to as many people as you can in the time that you have to network before the presentation begins. If you see someone in the group that you know, approach them and ask them to introduce you around in the room. This will help you to shortcut the process of meeting people. It also gives a friend an opportunity to refer you personally in a group of their peers.
It is important to be creative when looking for meetings to attend. Attend many, and you will have more opportunities to work with. Set a goal to visit all the types of groups at least once a month for maximum exposure and optimum contacts.