Networking, just to network, without specific goals will largely be a waste of your precious time.
This is easy to do. It happens all the time, particularly with people who thrive meeting new people.
Obviously I advocate network: all the time, everywhere with everybody. It’s a great way to sharpen your people skills and often leads to starting new relationships with fascinating people who may be really important to you down the road.
But I also advocate spending most of your networking efforts and time tied to accomplishing very specific important personal or professional goals.
Once you have major goal defined – put it in writing – then you can shape your networking and relationship development efforts around that specific target.
Having identified your goal(s) then you can begin to list the types:
- of people you need to meet
- events you should be going to
- groups you might want to join
- of information you want to share on the internet
For example, if the entrepreneurial bites you and your goal is to launch your new business then you are likely going to want to:
- meet appropriate lawyers, accounting firms, bankers, insurance brokers, maybe web developers and the SBA and maybe the state economic development authority
- start going to various meet up group events or sector conferences and trade shows
- join and get involved in the leading associations in the sector you are targeting
- start posting job openings and developing a web site for the new venture
If, on the personal side, your goal was to substantially increase your knowledge of wines your networking efforts might be directed at:
- meeting sommeliers or wine store owners
- attending wine tasting events
- visiting wineries in various parts of the country or the world
- joining wine clubs in your area
- joining on-line wine clubs
So, my advice is to step back, determine what are you really trying to accomplish in the next 6-12 months and then put together a networking action plan designed to get you there.
It will yield a lot more results that randomly meeting new people and hoping a relevant relationships evolves.