How do solo entrepreneurs and small business owners incorporate the proper amount of networking in their busy lives? Using the 3 steps of networking let’s look out how you can manage time to optimize networking.
Networking can consume a great deal of time. Don’t fill all of “free” hours on your calendar with events and connection meetings. If you do, you often do not have time for the day to day tasks that produce the product or service you want to sell.
Time Blocking The 3 Networking Steps
Gain Contacts Step.
Time commitment: Plan on attending 1 networking event per week on average.
This mainly consists of group networking events. Sometimes I have two events I attend one week and zero another. Keep an eye on your calendar if you start to exceed more than 1 event per week average, assess which events fit your needs and which don’t. Stop attending the events that don’t fit your needs. Instead fill that time with all those tasks you think you don’t have time for.
Make Connections Step.
Time commitment: Two connection meetings per week at around 45 minutes per meeting.
Remember connection meetings are those initial meetings you set up with someone you’ve met at a networking event. I love coffee meetings. I highly suggest not doing less than two per week. A big part of life is about who you know. The more people you meet and get to know better through a connection meeting the bigger the chance you will fill your “tribe” with exactly the people you need in your life and your business.
Building Relationships Step.
Time commitment: 2 relationship meetings per week.
These are the lunches, drinks, walks in the park, etc. that you have with certain people over and over again. These are the people you want in your life, therefore, you need to nurture these relationships. As I stated last week these are different from professional meetings you may have with a client. Building relationships means no agenda. You can have a relationship building meeting with a client. I’ve had many clients who have become friends. Sometimes I just call one of those friends up and ask to have lunch because I haven’t seen her in a while and I’d like to catch up. Bottom line: Take care of those you want in your corner.
Quick Review: What has time blocking accomplished?
Networking events: one per week at about 2 hours.
Connection meetings: two coffee meetings per week at 45 minutes each equals 1 ½ hours.
Relationship building meetings: two per week at about 1 – 1 ½ hours per meeting equals 2 to 3 hours per week.
For a grand total of networking time of 4 ½ hours to 6 ½ hours per week.
A great deal of entrepreneurial success comes not only form who you know, but who knows you. When you manage time to optimize networking, over the course of a year you will have about 96 connection meetings and 96 relationship building meetings. Wow! Don’t underestimate the power of networking, but do not let it consume all of our time either.
Look at your calendar. Consider how you can manage time to optimize networking?
Laurel Fischer is a Relationship Marketing and Strategy expert. By improving your marketing and sales communication your business will reach new heights. At STL Interactive Innovations, LLC, The “Sky’s The Limit” in what you and your organization can achieve. Want to learn more? Contact Laurel today.