There are so many excellent reasons to network – you can find lasting relationships with potential associates or perhaps find a client in need of your services, even discover a business relationship that you didn’t even know existed that sets you on a more profitable path.
The bald truth about networking is that very few of us are natural at it. The thought of going to an event and talking to complete strangers is like downing a spoonful of Buckley’s cough syrup – it tastes awful but it does work if you just do it.
Many books and articles have been written about advice and approaches in making networking a more pleasant experience.
Dorie Clark, for example, is a strategy consultant who has worked with clients including Google, Yale University, and the National Park Service suggests the following five tips in making your networking efforts more fruitful and enjoyable.
“1. Make people come to you. There's automatically a power imbalance when you approach someone and say, "I really wanted to meet you." So why not turn the tables? Take a leadership role in your organization (Chamber of Commerce, trade association, women's business network). That way, you wield the power because you dole out invitations to speakers - and everyone always wants to meet the person in charge.
2. Set a numerical goal. Vow that you'll talk to at least three people you don't know. That concrete goal will remind you of the point of attending--to meet some new contacts--and it will help push you out of your comfort zone, so you don't spend most of the night chatting with old friends.
3. Get their card. I know that some people measure their networking success by the number of business cards they give out. But the fact is, no one is going to keep your card safely tucked away until the need arises. You're lucky if it actually makes it past the trash that evening. You simply can't rely on other people to remember you, or even email you their contact info, regardless of whether they promise to do so. You need to collect their card - because only you can be counted on to retain their contact information.
4. Follow up. This is where many people blow it. Despite a great initial conversation, they never took any steps to keep in touch, and so a year later, the person no longer remembered them. Make it a point during your conversation to identify commonalities that will allow you to keep a relationship alive, even a casual one. Maybe it's a shared opera passion, and you heard of a show that is coming to town. Or perhaps a business challenge and you promise to send them a white paper you read about how to solve it. However you do it, make sure to stay in touch.
5. Be realistic. Almost no one leaves a networking event with a new contract in hand. That shouldn't be your goal, anyway, because a relationship developed that quickly is probably shallow and easy to break. Your aim should be to meet interesting people whom you can get to know and then - eventually - turn into good, long-term clients.
And that starts with making the effort to introduce yourself - and stay in touch.”
CMC-BC has organized a number of networking events for our members in 2016. Please come out to these events and take the opportunity to meet like-minded professionals doing some very interesting things in the industry. You will be pleasantly surprised at how this might help you find out about best practices that you could apply to your firm, different consulting business models or even identify a co-consulting opportunity on a client project where your skills are needed.
You get what you put in, however it starts with a one good step forward. As Nike’s slogan says “Just do it”.
To your consulting success,
Lyn Blanchard CMC
 DORIE CLARK MONEYWATCH May 26, 2011, 9:18 AM Networking Advice for People Who Hate Networking