Last week I posted a blog on how to meet the right people and I focused on explaining how to meet people who serve the same professional client as you. Today, I’d like to continue this discussion but I’d like to focus specifically on how to meet people who can help you meet your business goals.
First off, if you haven’t set business goals then let’s stop right here–you need to make that your top priority this week! If you do have business goals, don’t let them collect dust on your bulletin board or get covered up in your drawer. Make it a point to review them each month. Choose a goal. The big question you need to ask yourself is “Who do I need to meet to help me accomplish this goal?”
It’s tough to make it alone in today’s competitive business environment. Even the biggest sports stars or governmental candidates can’t reach their goals alone–so why should we try to go it alone? Let’s say that one of your business goals this year is to write an article for a local paper. How would you network your way to achieving that goal? Well, first, you would start reading the paper. You’d find out who writes the articles, who writes for other papers in your area, who the editors are, etc. Then you would get the word out to your own network as there’s a fair chance it includes someone who could put you in contact with the right individual. You would let it be known that you wanted to meet writers, editors, and others working for local papers so you could gain insight and knowledge into how they accomplished something you were aspiring to do–you would also let it be known that you were in no way intending to try to sell to these people.
You would also look for networking events sponsored by these publications. You’d probably find staff members there providing support and you’d want to focus on meeting and speaking with the right people–professionals connected with the publication–again, with the intention of learning how to write an article for your local business paper. No matter what your goal is, writing and publishing an article or otherwise, if you network with the people who have the experience and connections to guide you toward your goal, you will be well on your way to accomplishing it.
Another example of this strategy is to think of the people involved in the six degrees of separation study. They had a goal to achieve . . . to get a package to a specific person whom they did not know. I would venture to suspect that the successful people in the study began by scouring their network for the right people who could help them accomplish this goal. Choosing anyone and everyone would have increased the links along the way . . . which was obviously the strategy of the 71% of the people who never connected at all.
In summary, remember: When you’re considering asking someone in your personal network for a favor, ask yourself whether she’s simply a contact or an actual established connection. Avoid the trap of having unrealistic expectations of your network, such as support that your contacts may feel you don’t deserve. You have to earn the loyalty and engagement of your referral sources. Your current goal has two parts: (1) to meet the right people, and (2) to develop deep relationships with them over time.
So, to help you pinpoint who you should be focusing on meeting the next time you’re at a networking event, make a list of the following:
- 5 professions (other than your own) that serve your preferred client market
- 2 business goals of yours
- 2 individuals you might seek out for help in accomplishing goal #1 and 2 individuals who might help you meet goal #2
How do you feel about the list you came up with? Do you find it helpful? Does it give you a clearer picture of where you want your business to go and who you should focus on meeting in order to steer your business in that direction? I’d love to get your feedback on this so please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!