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Desiree Ashton

doing the legwork, so you don't have to

Networking is something which all good businesses do because they understand that it can provide a strategic, cost-effective route to market.  In today’s hyper-connected business world, it’s as much a case of what you know as who you know.  Being in the right place at the right time with the right people can open a multitude of otherwise apparently closed doors.

There is, however, a darker side to networking.  If not proactively managed this can be more detrimental to your business than not networking at all.  Attending events which ultimately do little for you or your business can equate to a complete and utter waste of time.   Time which could be best spent feeding your bottom line.

So, how do you ensure that your investment in networking delivers a boost to your business, as opposed to being a drain?


The answer is not rocket-science.  By simply investing some time in preparing for networking, you can ensure that the events you do attend bring real value to your business.  The choice is yours as to how you approach this.  As my experience is based on being the VA who does the legwork, here are some of the ways in which I have seen my clients get the most out of their networking.

1.  Identify and attend the right events for you:  The networking scene is positively buzzing with events and keeping track of what’s on, where and when, that might be of interest to you can be a task in itself.  Why not task your VA with researching and keeping a rolling list of up-coming events on particular themes?  You can then consult this summary list on a regular basis and decide which ones you wish to attend.  Save time by delegating the booking procedure to your VA, too.  Working with a rolling list, you can ensure that your networking allows you to attend a healthy ‘spread’ of events.  If one specific event proves particularly useful or interesting, your VA can be tasked with reminding you of when it recurs in the future.  If you miss an event which looked interesting, ask your VA to contact the organiser and request a copy of any slides, e-docs to be sent through to you.  

2.  Preparing for events:  It is quite common now for organisers to circulate the planned delegate list a few days prior to a networking event.  With some well-timed advance research your VA can furnish you with some additional details on those attending, allowing you to prioritise who you want to speak with.  In this way, you will ensure the conversations you have are relevant to you and your business.  Being able to demonstrate an insight or understanding of someone else’s business is a great way to introduce yourself and make a lasting impression. 

3.  Follow-up after events:  It is standard practice to exchange business cards at such events and it is important to make the best use of the information these contain.  When you receive a business card, suggest that you connect on social media and ask permission to register them in your database for your newsletter or blog.  The data entry can be done by your VA.  A nice touch will be to send out some company information, preferably in the form of a personal email.  All this can be prepared in advance by your VA so all you have to do following the event is decide who to send it to.  In your rolling list of networking events, ask your VA to keep a note of any important contacts against the event you met them at.  If you return to such an event in the future, you have the perfect excuse to get in touch again – and they will be impressed by both your memory and your attention to detail! 

4.  Know what’s hot:  New networking events are constantly being established and sometimes it’s good to freshen up your list.  Task your VA with researching specific areas which are of interest to you and finding out what other events are out there.  Social media is one way of doing this as many real-time groups also have online forums, too.   Browsing business directory websites can also prove fruitful.  Finally, if you’re away on business and know you will have some inevitable ‘dead time’, why not get your VA to look into and advise  networking events happening in that area?  You never know….

Regardless of which sector you operate in, by applying these tactics you can ensure that the events you attend deliver real value to your business.  Networking is not just about selling your wares, it’s about finding out more about what others sell, too.  Being prepared will allow you to circulate confidently at different events, helping raise your profile and leave a long and lasting impression with those you meet and speak with.

Happy networking!




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