Particularly over the last year, everyone is online, starting a network, or invited to join one, with seemingly hundreds of webinars and online conferences and events occurring each week. It’s easy to get swept up, and lose time and focus in the process.
Irrespective of whether the network is outcome-based, or just a network for the sake of building a member base, it’s key to remember that however great these groups are for other members, to YOU, they are only worthwhile if they are adding value and making a difference to YOUR goals in some way. So, how do you sift through it all and leverage these networks and potential partnerships for success?
The following no-nonsense 6 step guide will help you do just that.
1. Have a clear game-plan
Your game-plan should be linked to your personal and professional aims. Be clear on what you want to achieve and make your networks and engagements intentional. This way you can map out the types of networks that best suit you.
Whether they are action-based, supportive, or informative, if you have insights into what you need, you can better assess the types of networks you should be joining and spend your time on.
2. Do a gap analysis – look for added value
Don’t just look for groups of people who have the same skills sets, experience, frame of reference or worldview as you. Consider everything that could benefit you and help you build or scale. Among these could be specific expertise, access to particular networks, markets, products or services.
3. Map networks and partnerships to your aims and gaps
Now that you know what you want to achieve and what gaps you’re looking to fill, actively seek out, or assess potential networks with these in mind. Start scoping out the networks that best suit your needs, check out their activities, and get a view of the profiles of the members.
4. Consider your pitch position
As much as you are now being strategic about your connections, remember that others may assess you with the same lens. Think about the value that you bring to the table. Plot potential synergies- but more than that, opportunities, insights, skills, and expertise you bring that is of benefit to the network, or its members, and prepare your pitches!
5. Look for and offer credibility and authenticity
Remember that not all is as it seems, especially during a time when social media is being maximised as a marketing tool for the ‘ideal.’ Take time to vet people and research the people and networks you are considering. When you are engaging, whether it is with the network or individual members, offer what you are capable of delivering when you pitch yourself.
Remember that pitches take different forms, and even when you are contributing by way of comments and posts, or sending direct messages, it’s all creating a picture of who you are, and what you’re capable of. Put your best foot forward.
6. Check in with yourself
It’s easy to take time doing all of the above and to then get caught up in posts and comments and connecting with members without having any clear actions or outcomes.
Regularly take time out to review if your interactions are reaping rewards through collaborations, support and partnerships that are helping you reach your goals. If not, it may be time to reconsider the network, its members or your ‘pitch.’ Lose whatever is not fit for purpose and adapt accordingly.
Good luck, happy networking and go forth and partner with purpose.