The activity you need to refocus on now
Most marketers are great at networking. It’s in our nature, and we know a large network has many benefits, such as when we’re looking for a new job, need a referral, or just want to learn from an expert.
But for many marketers, networking fell by the wayside when the pandemic hit. We no longer meet new people at conferences, invite connections for coffee or lunch, or even strike up a conversation with a stranger during our commute. There just haven’t been as many networking opportunities.
While it can be more difficult to do during a pandemic, networking is important for your career. Here are 5 tips to help you refocus on your networking activities.
Create a networking list
At the beginning of every year, I make a networking list with three categories:
- People with whom you want to reconnect: These could be former colleagues, current colleagues, or even friends you haven’t stayed in touch with as closely as you would have liked. It’s always good to re-establish connections and catch up. You may each have something going on the other can help with or you could share valuable information.
- Meeting people you want to get to know better: This could be someone who works at your organization, someone you met at a conference, or even someone you met through a friend or colleague.
- People you want to meet: These are often people you’ve seen speak at a conference, people you see on LinkedIn, or people you’ve heard about from friends or colleagues.
Add networking time to your calendar
As with other activities, scheduling time to network is key. Once you’ve made your list, add some time to your calendar each week, even if it’s just 15 minutes.
Networking Tips for that time:
- Reach out to current contacts
- Ask people for introductions to new contacts
- Set times for networking meetings
Make it easy for the other person
Scheduling networking meetings doesn’t have to be painful. Everyone is busy. Therefore avoid saying, “I’d love to catch up sometime” and leaving it at that, or it may take several days and many emails before you even get something on the calendar.
Instead, state the reason you are reaching out and offer 3 times you are free in the coming weeks. You might write something like this:
“I’d love to catch up and also pick your brain on account-based marketing. I’m free Monday and Thursday afternoon next week, or Tuesday morning the following week.”
That way the person knows what the meeting is about and can respond with a time that works for them. Provided they are free during at least one of the times you offer, you’ve scheduled a networking meeting in two emails.
If you’re reaching out to someone you don’t yet know, it can be a good idea to offer to buy them coffee and include an e-card to a coffee shop.
Directly after each networking meeting, before you move on to something else, follow up. If you met a new contact or the person you met with helped you with something, send a thank-you note.
And for all meetings, flag your calendar when you want to reach out to that specific person again. Even if it’s months away, it will help keep your networking activities on track.
Finally, find your motivation
These tips are easy to do, and professional networking isn’t rocket science. So why aren’t we all networking more? “Motivation,” said a friend of mine when I told her that I was writing a blog about networking during the pandemic.
How do you find motivation to network when you’re suffering pandemic fatigue? I find mine by remembering how nice it feels when people reach out and contact me. Who knows whose day you might brighten by reaching out?
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