Whenever I run a networking workshop I always ask my delegates to literally map out their ideal network. I find that this exercise really helps delegates focus on WHO they want to meet, and how these people are going to help them achieve their business and career goals.
This may sound rather calculating or manipulative. However, I see it as a tool to help people focus on how they will spend their networking time. Let’s be frank here, how many times have you turned up to a networking event without knowing why you are there and who you would benefit from meeting? Was it a productive use of your time? A networking map is a great way of focusing your networking time. It also has the additional benefit of helping you prioritise your networking activities, because you now truly understand why you are networking and why it is important to your future career or business health.
So, how do you draw your network map?
Get a big piece of paper and in a box in the centre put one of your big career or business goals. e.g. Find a new job in next 12 months, generate £100k of new business in next 6 months. By the way you can do this as a mind map if you prefer.
Step 2: Identify your hubs
Now think of the types of people that could help you achieve this goal. For example, current clients, ex-clients, family, friends, bankers, accountants, etc. Who else can you think of? Draw a spoke from the centre for each type of person you can think of. Are there any of these hubs which should be sub-divided. For example, ex-colleagues may split down into, ex-colleagues still in industry, ex-colleagues I trained with, ex-colleagues I really liked.
Step 3: rank your hubs
Not everyone is created equal. Look at your hubs, which of them are more likely to be able to help you achieve your goal. Now rank each hub by who is more likely to be able to help you achieve your goal.
Step 4: find names
Starting with your most important hub, identify names of people you already know in this hub & add these to the diagram. Also add in positions where you know the person in role would be able to help you, but you don’t know them yet.
Step 5: build your action plan
For each named person or position on your map, write down how you think that they will be able to help you achieve their goals, and the state of the relationship E.g. Introductions to potential clients. You may like to use our relationship classification system. Now, where do you need to be to meet these people? Who do you need to spend more time with to achieve your goals? How will you do this? The answers to these questions will give you a focused networking action plan designed to help you achieve your goals.
Have fun mapping!