A good leader understands that leadership involves developing strategy, which includes enhancing reputation, exposure, and connection through networking in a purposeful manner. The Institute of Leadership & Management views networking as an essential leadership capability, proposing leaders invest their time wisely and learn how to choose events and strategies that are worthwhile.
How do you network strategically?
Strategic networking is about building and maintaining relationships with those who can help you grow your business, and vice versa. A strategic network is based on quality relationships, not quantity, which means it requires time and focused effort to build and maintain. As Richard Holland, the Sydney Hills Business Chamber membership manager likes to say, “networking is a marathon, not a sprint.”
In honing your strategic networking skills, it’s handy to spend some time on the basics before you start. Set clear definitions for roles and expectations when it comes to the types of contacts in your network. This can help optimise the time and effort spent.
Getting the basics right
Before you start forming new or deepening existing relationships as part of your strategic network, check the following:
- Can you define your current situation? A SWOT analysis can be handy here.
- Can you clearly define your goals?
- Can you communicate your business offering, brand and goals clearly to prospective network members?
- Have you identified what types of contacts you need in your network?
- Are you a good listener? You’ll want to understand each business in your network the way you want them to understand your business.
- Do you have a give-mindset? What can you start to give now, and possibly in future?
Types of contacts
When you’re thinking about the type of people you’d like to get to know, don’t make the novice mistake of focussing on people you think might need your services. The aim of building a network isn’t to pitch your services. It’s to build a network that over time leads to:
- Referral partners
- Access to expertise
- Mentor/mentee relationships
How will you meet people?
It’s likely you have some networks now – family and friends, colleagues, or sporting or hobby club members. Don’t ignore the value of these networks because they don’t seem to be business related – almost everyone in them has their own network of connections. But to build a strong business-related network, you may need to increase your level of activity in the business community.
One way to do that is to become involved in your local chamber of commerce and/or other business networking groups in your area. They typically hold regular events and workshops that provide ample opportunities for you to make new connections.
If you’re in the Sydney Hills District or surrounds, a great place to start is the Sydney Hills Business Chamber.
Effective networking will be one of the topics discussed at The Sydney Hills Business Chamber’s online Celebrate Women In Business Mini Conference on September 15, 2021.
With great speakers and carefully selected breakout room topics geared towards building businesses in these times, this is a not-to miss event!