The first step in determining the best places to network is by determining who your ideal client is. When you have your niche boiled down, the second thing to do is to boil down where those type of people most hang out.
One of my client’s niches was stay-at-home-
After you figure out where your potential clients hang out and have a regular practice of hanging out there too, the next category to look at in your networking is your associations. I recommend that people fit in a group that is in their industry. It is important to stay on top of the industry trends, to know what others are doing in the industry, and to have colleagues who are friends that you can turn to when you have too much work, or you have a work related questions. So cultivating one group that is in your industry is a good idea.
Next comes the dicey area of workshops and seminars. You can usually benefit from going to them, but if you go too much, you will be spending too much time on learning, traveling, and the expense of the seminar, and not enough on growing your business. Too many business owners get caught in the “one more seminar” addiction. Before attending more seminars, here are some good questions to ask yourself:
*Can I afford it?
*Can I afford the time off and the time away from work?
*How much of what they are going to be teaching do I already know sufficiently?
*How many things did I apply from the last seminar? Am I still planning to review those notes?
It is important to be extremely selective concerning seminars. They cost a lot of time, money and energy, and more often than not it is better to stay home. But some of these seminars are absolutely business changing, if the reason you are going is to create more strategic partners and the seminars are where they hang out. If that is your intention and you know that you are going to forge relationships, then it is worth the sacrifices.
Networking can be a huge way to grow your business, and it also can be a huge time sucker. It is critical when you make your networking plans that you lay them out in a format that will not only work for you, but is a strategic choice to get you where you want to be.