No More Wimpy Networking
For many businesses, the list will stack up heavily in the first three categories. Your networking strategy should be built with this breakdown in mind. Direct and indirect referrals are often the result of satisfied clients spreading the word. These opportunities may seem to just come knocking, but in reality they are the ripple effect of how you manage your business. You have the chance to strengthen your network every time you call, email or meet with a client. Personal follow-up during and after a project goes a long way to not only avoiding problems, but to maintaining a good relationship throughout. Long after the last invoice is sent, a satisfied client will gladly pass on your name when someone in their network is looking for what you provide.
Business through network referrals is cultivated over a period of time. It is networking in its simplest form – getting to know people, and meeting the people they know, then getting to know them. As you develop these relationships and the scope of your network, opportunities arise naturally. By consciously managing your contact lists you can easily stay connected with a wide range of people and improve your visibility. Take a few minutes a day to send one or two emails for no other reason except to touch base with someone in your network. Share a link to an article they may be interested in, or just ask them how things are going. Additionally, use some of the time you spend on social media sites and other on-line communities to interact directly and reconnect with people. When your schedule allows, reach out to your contacts and set up times to meet for coffee or lunch to catch up.
Attending networking or other business events is not only a great way to meet new people, but a chance to check in with several people in your network with one stop. There are a number of on-line sources to help you find events to attend, and some helpful links are provided below. You don’t have to be everywhere, all the time. If you try, you’ll end up a burned out zombie just going through the motions. Think about events and places that draw together the kinds of people you would like to meet. This could mean a traditional meet-and-greet networking exchange, or a lecture series, a cocktail social or even an awards banquet or art opening. Find things that fit your schedule and your particular style, and be consistent in your attendance and you will find that your network grows and gets stronger all while you are simply enjoying the company of others.
Networking Links & Resources
- LinkedIn Groups – search for industry or region-specific groups and events
- Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce Events Calendar
- Richmond 1to1 – Calendar of Networking Events
- Eventful – Richmond Business Category
- Linked In – Richmond Events Page
- Meet-up – Richmond Business Networking Listing
- Greater Richmond Retail Merchant’s Association Events Page
- VA News & Events – Local Calendar of Events & Networking Opportunities
- Times-Dispatch – Metro Business Section (see calendar published each Monday)
- Connect Richmond – Non-profit news and events for Richmond area
- Connect Southside – Non-profit news and events for Southside Virginia area
- National Association of Women Business Owners, Richmond Chapter
- Network of Enterprising Women
- Richmond Women’s Network