First, get over your fear of networking. How? Treat it as an opportunity to meet and get to know new friends. As I said in another post, don’t put pressure on yourself by thinking you have to come away with a new client every time. Just enjoy yourself!!
Okay, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be smart about it.
An article by my friend Roberta Montafia has a succinct article on Attorney at Work about planning your networking to make it as productive as possible – yeah, while you are trying to enjoy yourself. Her main points are:
- Plan your targets. Think through who your ideal clients are and where they are likely to be; and then plan to attend those events, conferences, etc. so you can meet them and…remember… make friends;
- Focus. On how to make the biggest impact within those organizations where your targets are. In other words, what is the best way – writing for publications, volunteering, seeking positions of leadership – to make a contribution;
- Be engaged. Don’t just join, raise your profile by being recognized as a meaningful contributor to the goals of the organization in whatever way that will benefit it and your reputation; and
- Be prepared. Know as much as you can about who will be there, your goals in attending, what the targets need to know about you, and make sure to follow up.
Networking is a necessity in the business world. But, you don’t have to waste your time or dumbly go about doing it.