Are you willing to apply an hour a day to networking? For some business people, it may be impossible to squeeze another sixty minutes of work into their day. Others might not be able to imagine what they could do every day besides go to a networking event – and who could find one of those every single business day of the week. There might even be those who are in the very envious position of having built their business to the point where the customers roll in, whether they network or not.
But there are some people for whom an hour a day is an absolute minimum requirement to not only grow their business, but for some it is a matter of survival. If you’ve started a new job in a sales related position such as real estate, mortgage lending, financial planning or other commission-paid positions, an hour a day is the least amount of networking you can survive on. Or, if you’ve joined a multi-level or direct selling company without having a very large, personal warm market already, you’re going to need that hour and more. Finally, if you are one of the unfortunate many in American who are now looking for a job in today’s tough economy, then networking should take up a good portion of your job-search time.
So what do you do with that hour? You probably won’t be able to attend one event every day without incurring significant travel time. Plus, that neglects the very important follow-up part of networking if you spend it all in going places. Here is a balanced plan to put every bit of that time – a total of three hundred minutes a week – to the best use possible.
Find at least one event per week. Chamber mixers are a good source, there are probably several in your city or very close by, especially if you count the ethnic chambers of commerce and other similar associations. Most of them last two hours. Weekly meetings such as Toastmasters and Rotary might take too much time without giving you exposure to enough different people and they usually take one to two hours.
Assuming that you are spending 90 to 120 of your three hundred minutes on attending formal planned events. You should be able to meet three or four new people and reinforce your connection with three or four people you do know. Each of the new people deserves a personal follow up, either a thank you note, email or phone call. It might take 10 minutes per person, for a total of forty minutes to make that follow up call or write the emails.
You want to spend the rest of your remaining 140 to 170 minutes for the week working on giving value to the people in your network. Giving value means finding referrals for them, filtering out the fire hose of information on the Internet to provide them with something useful, introducing them to someone they’d like to meet and otherwise looking for ways to do helpful, business-building things for them. This is a simple plan that covers all the vital ingredients for building a powerful network in a small investment of time, just one hour per day.