Experience has taught me that for professional services, highlights of your networking flow chart should include:
· Establishing trust and awareness in what you do as quickly as possible, in order to be given opportunities to discuss your work and its fit with a potential client. To do this, your tactic should be to gain as many quality introductions from your existing network as possible.
· If you have done some research on who in your network may be able to provide an introduction, and you have come up short… chances are you need to expand your network. This may mean attending some carefully chosen, quality networking events, to meet people face-to-face, because it’s much easier to book a coffee with someone you’ve already met.
· When you do get that meeting, preparing for a great first impression by researching the client, thinking about great questions to ask to learn about their problems, and being ready with clear and specific communication (verbally and in materials) on how you can help this particularclient.
· Scheduling follow-ups and keeping good records of your conversations so that you can continue to build a meaningful and mutually beneficial relationship.
If you are a visual person, you may be able to imagine how these key steps can start to form a flow chart! But everyone is different, and will have different considerations. Each of the steps above also have so much in them to unpack… they may be raising questions like, ‘But howdo I create clear and specific communication on what we provide?’ / ‘Whichare the right networking events for me?’
“Each step has so much in it to unpack…”
Pretty soon you’re in overwhelm, instead of having a clear and simple path to follow!
Long-term v short-term (move the needle) tactics
While building credibility and visibility over time through things like social media pages, media appearances, and posting online content are important, these are long-term tacticsthat should sit alongside your short-term tactics that most quickly move the needle. When you are very busy and can only do a few things well, your focus as a professional advisor should be a simple plan that you can execute to move relationships along weekly.
While I’ve provided some ideas to think about, I’m aware that I’ve posed even more questions! This idea of creating an online and offline networking plan is (alongside creating a personal brand) the most popular topic people ask for help on, most commonly as a team workshop, where they can learn the concepts and apply them into a personalised plan on the spot. If this topic has created more questions than answers for you, let me know how I can help! Julissa