What are the Criteria for a Successful Networking Meeting

Whether we network on-line, in-person, or do both, it’s helpful to go into your meetings with a set of criteria for goals you want to meet. Without these goals, you may end up feeling like you had a great conversation, but now what? Do you follow up with a next step? Do you offer to do something you’re really not sure you have time to do, or want to do? How do you keep the momentum going? Do you want to keep the momentum going?

Not all contacts are worth a next step. A simple thank you is just fine. You are free to consider whether or not a contact is worth your time as someone who can open doors for you and possibly a new direction for your talents. You want to be able to assess this before putting a lot of time into cultivating the relationship.

Having a background in sales and fundraising, I find it useful to be strategic about my conversations, follow-ups, and give-backs. I don’t engage in broadband networking. This follows the fundraising axiom that 5% of the donors provide 95% of the funding. Five percent of your network will provide 95% of your opportunities. Here are my criteria for a successful networking meeting:

Will this be an interesting meeting?

Will I learn something new?

Will I be able to help this person in any way?

Will they be able to help me in any way?

Will this help me decide on my next step?

You can borrow this or create your own. Just be clear that the principles of networking are the same whether they’re virtual or in-person: it takes only one connection, one e-mail introduction, to begin a cascade of introductions…and you have to follow-up. Most importantly: help others and you help yourself, but do so strategically. As Adam Grant demonstrates in his seminal book, Givers and Takers, we have to be intentional about how we help each other, so we can have valuable reciprocity without exhausting ourselves and putting ourselves last. Your success begins with setting your criteria for a valuable interaction.

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