Monday, September 14, 2009

Your Networking Schedule

Your schedule may not be like mine.
I am bombarded with advice – "meet people" – urging me to climb out of my home office and hit the streets.
Or at least the convention centers.
Here's the good news: there are far too many free seminars and events where you can establish face-to-face serious-conversation contact with like-minded people.
A few of these contacts may result in sales down the road.
Most of them will result in friendships, relationships, and self-help assistance.
I know.
Because it happens to me.
If you haven't yet got a plan, feel free to borrow mine.
Once a month
I visit the web sites of the half-dozen or so organizations that schedule regular seminars and browse their offerings.

For each interesting offering, I make an entry in my calendar – a Word-processing document table is all it takes. Each cell holds a date and none, one or more organization names and times:
The hyperlink takes me to the web page for that organization.
Email Signature

I paste the events into my email signature:
EVERY email that I issue contains information of value to the recipient.
Sometimes by reply I get '"See you there!", and can be prepared for more work.
Daily Sheets
For each event I plan to attend, I print a single sheet with the details – address, date, time, speaker etc. – and then clip these together and hang them from my bulletin board.
The top sheet shows the next scheduled event, and can be "torn off" as I swoop out the door.
I take the sheet of paper to remind me of the address and to show to a puzzled concierge.
The sheet also serves as a note-scribbler, recording name sof contacts, who and what they supply.
I live through my store-bought diary; "If it ain't written down it don't exist!".
Each event gets the time slot braced out, and an acronym that serves to remind me of the organization and location.
In preparation for the week ahead, I scan my schedule for networking events, note the location, and contact someone in the vicinity.
Downtown is easy.
If I'm planning to be at City Hall on Thursday, September 03, 2009 between 10 a.m. and noon, I start asking contacts for a meeting for coffee before 10 a.m. or lunch after noon.
If I am persuasive enough, I'll meet a contact before the seminar, make two good contacts during the seminar, and meet a contact after the seminar.
That's four face-to-face contacts for the price of two subway tokens!
Of course some days (September 16th is a good example), there are FOUR events. I might make one in the morning and one in the evening. Or I might go to none.
My schedule is not a contract to the outside world; it is not an appointment book between me and you.
My schedule is a commitment to myself.
By taking half an hour each month to map out a plan, by writing it down, and by printing it out in tangible tokens of duty, I encourage myself to get out of my home office and meet people.

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