One thing about real-life Ninjas is that they were strategic, precise, and deliberate. They had a mission and knew exactly what was needed to carry it out. As entrepreneurs we must utilize those same strategies, and one of the most crucial components of any effective business plan is networking. You know it’s critical to your success, but are you doing it with forethought and a solid strategy in place or do you just “wing it?”
Undoubtedly, most of us fall into the “winging it” category, either because of a lack of knowledge or experience or because of time constraints. However, there are some quick and easy changes you can make that will put many of your important networking tasks on autopilot.
Master the art of delegation by outsourcing the research. This can be done by hiring a VA (no, not a Veteran; a virtual assistant) who can find and connect you with potential partners, affiliates, guest interviews, and all the other marketing options at your disposal.
Put together a list of what you need. With this list handy, your VA can spend a couple hours using a search engine and find dozens of people you can then reach out to. What would a list of 100—or even 20—new partners or customers do for your business growth?
Streamline the initial connection through automation. Create an email template, script, or social media post to use when you first reach out to potential partners. Your VA can send this in an email or make a call on your behalf. If you don’t have a VA, no problem! Taking some time to create a script or template in advance will save you time down the road by accomplishing two things:
- It will make the process much faster than if you have to think about what to say every time you contact a new person.
- You’ll be able to make changes and polish the script as you go along to get better results.
Be sure to customize your initial connection a little bit. One easy way to do this is explain how what you offer would benefit your new connections’ audience.
Streamline the follow-up through automation. It cannot be stressed enough; the more you automate, the more time you’ll have for life, as well as for putting your creativity to work with product development. So again, create an email or phone script to help speed the process. You or your VA (or your email autoresponder program) can send out a series of emails or posts to follow up on that initial connection.
Automate your scheduling: Using a service such as 10to8 or ScheduleOnce, you can easily set up your calendar with your preferred times for interviews, webinars and such. In fact, do an internet search to look up best scheduling apps to find the one that is the best fit for your needs.
Give your business partners and customers links to book time with you, and the meetings will automatically appear on your calendar. No more endless back and forth to discuss potential meeting times; just a single click and your partner can choose the time that works for you both.
“Winging It” Warning
Here’s a caution if you’re prone to defaulting to the “winging it” mode. Be sure to use your calendar diligently, because if you don’t you’ll run the risk of someone scheduling time with you when you already have another commitment.
Will it take a bit of work to get these systems in place? Yes. But once you do, you’ll find that networking is less time consuming than it could be. It also makes attracting and working with business partners, guest experts, customers, and others much easier and more streamlined.
With the time you save, you’ll be able to concentrate on creating new products, programs, and services.