Do you attend networking events with clear goals in mind about what you want to achieve? Or do you show up hoping for the best?
Do you know who you want to meet, how you can help others and what makes networking effective for you?

For example, do you have a new product or service you want to promote? Do you need to meet a new bookkeeper or other service provider? Maybe you want to make three new connections in order to increase your network. Without the answer to these questions, your conversations may seem scattered and fruitless.

When I first started networking I did not have any concrete goals or vision of success. I left networking events feeling disappointed. I felt as though I lacked a reason to make connections. I did not know what to say or how to say it. On many occasions I said nothing at all.

Networking quickly became a waste of time and money. As a new business owner I could not afford to waste either. I needed a new approach and I needed it fast.

Thats when I began to think about and write down the goals I wanted to achieve from my networking efforts. To avoid overwhelm I kept my goals short and simple. I never had more than three. As a result of this exercise I knew who I wanted to meet, what I wanted them to know, and I listened attentively to identify how I could provide support to others.

My most productive relationships are relationships I formed at SSWBN.

When you are clear about your networking goals you will be prepared to answer the inevitable question, “So, what do you do?” You will know how to proceed if your conversation partner is interested in hearing more. You will know exactly how you can help others. You will know how to follow up. You will leave feeling like you spent time and money wisely.

Before your next event, consider answering for yourself the following questions:

What do I want them to know? Am I promoting a new product, program , service or achievement?

Who do I want to meet? What do I need to take my business or career to the next level?

How can I be helpful? I must remember to listen more, be curious and be helpful.

What is my follow-up plan? /what are my options? Make a telephone call, schedule a coffee meeting, send a relevant article, learn more about the person by visiting her/his website? Or is there another option for following up?

Your turn: Do you set networking goals for yourself? What’s your process? Send me an email: I would love to know what works for you.

Stacey Shipman
Executive Director