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Wrap up a plan for networking success

What has this year been like for your business? Seriously, how has your year been? Did you meet your sales goals? Exceed them? Did you fall short? Did you actually set sales goals, or did you let sales just happen organically?

Most business people understand the importance of goal setting, and one of the best things you can do over the next two weeks, as the calendar year draws to a close, is to give yourself the gift of business success by setting goals for your networking activity in the new year.

We increasingly seek to look people we’re doing business with in the eyes and evaluate them on a personal level to make sure we’re making the right decision.

If you’re following this “How to Network” blog, you probably already understand the power of referral marketing. Networking is not just something people do because it’s cool, or because it’s there. Networking is a key part of marketing strategy, and one that’s growing in value as people seek out the power of face-to-face interaction.

One of the problems of modern digital communication is the loss of trust. In response, we increasingly seek to look people we’re doing business with in the eyes and evaluate them on a personal level to make sure we’re making the right decision. This is one of the reasons why Business Network International (BNI) is changing the way the world does business: it fits into that growing cultural need.

If you’re involved in BNI or a similar networking group (if you aren’t you need to get started), you already know that the system works because people refer business to one another and invite guests to share their business story with the group.

But you can’t rest on your past success. Like any marketing strategy, you must look at your progress and set new goals for the year ahead.

Networking Goals worksheet

Here is a guide for planning your network marketing in the year ahead. Pull out your pen or pencil and a piece of paper, or if you prefer, do this with your favorite digital tool. Ask yourself the following questions and follow the goal-setting exercises below.

  • How many guests did you bring to your networking events last year? Set a goal to increase that by 25%
  • How many referrals did you give to others? Set a goal to increase by 20% next year.
  • How many one-to-one Business Building Interviews (BBIs) did you have? Set a goal to double it next year.
  • How many networking events did you attend last year? Set a goal to increase that number by a multiplier that you feel is achievable. Perhaps you need to join an additional group like the local Chamber of Commerce, Board of Trade, Meetup group or an industry-specific group.
  • What were your total sales last year? What percentage of that figure came from BNI? Set a goal to increase it by a reasonable amount. The goal you set will be based on the percentage — some networking group members might get 30% of their sales through referrals, while for others it might only be 5%, so give yourself a goal that’s meaningful to you.
  • If your revenue from networking hasn’t met your expectations, ask yourself what you could be doing differently. Are your expectations realistic? Are your infomercials useful and specific? Do you show up every week for meetings, or too often have someone else represent you? Are you involved in the group by taking one of the leadership opportunities available? Are you seeking referrals for others, or just expecting networking to be a one-way street? These are tough questions, but it’s important to be brutally truthful in answering them.

Networking goals are no different from business and marketing goals. Networking is a part of your marketing mix; and for some businesses it’s the most important part. Plan your work, then work the plan. Take time to set your networking goals and surprise yourself with the sales results you’ll enjoy from this simple exercise.

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Wrap up a plan for networking success

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