How to be a Strategic Networker: Save Time and Money, and Improve Results


Wendy BlomsethWendy Blomseth, Audience Development Account Executive, Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal

The presenter at the April 1 PSA meeting—Wendy Blomseth—is arguably among the most connected people in the Twin Cities. While Wendy’s usual ebullience shined through her pithy presentation, there were no jokes on this April Fools’ Day about the value of networking along with information about methods for engaging in this important activity.

Wendy is a professional photographer who, with her husband, owned and operated their own small photography business. Wendy has been on the staff of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal (MSPBJ) since 2011, currently as audience development account executive. (MSPBJ is a sponsor of PSA.) Wendy began her presentation by defining what networking is: “Connecting, listening, and relationship building.”

The basics
Some of the “Whys” of networking are to build business, build your personal credibility, learn about potential referral sources, learn subject matter from the presentation at the networking event, and to help others.

The “How” of networking is based on a number of activities including asking open-ended questions. Instead of asking someone about the weather or traffic conditions, Wendy suggested that we check the MSPBJ website (before the event) for breaking news, which enables us to add value to our conversations.

In terms of the “Who” of networking, Wendy uses a hashtag that resonates with her. She then shares current information on LinkedIn. By doing so, she establishes her personal brand and becomes regarded as a subject-matter expert on topics that are related to her posts.

“Where” networking takes place is the location of events we attend at venues throughout the Twin Cities as well as on social-medial platforms. A list of networking occasions is included in every issue of MSPBJ. From their office in the former Accenture Tower (now named 333 South Seventh Street) in downtown Minneapolis, MSPBJ hosts seminars on business-related subjects. They also host a series of awards/recognition events throughout the year. Both the seminars and events are prime networking opportunities.

Using the news for networking
By reading the MSPBJ as a resource for business leads, Wendy suggested we send notes of congratulations to individuals who are featured in the “People on the Move” section and to someone within the companies that make the “The List.” (The List is a compilation of 25 companies within an industry category that are ranked by the number of their metro-area employees.) Subscribers to MSPBJ can “go behind the pay wall” to search and download contacts within those companies who are sorted by title. Although email addresses are not included in the listings, Wendy suggested that we call people or mail a note to introduce get acquainted.

As an example of using the “People on the Move” listing, Wendy shared on LinkedIn a note of congratulations when Kevin Pleasant was hired for a new position with a local bank. Kevin’s LinkedIn connections also congratulated him. Wendy was then able to contact Kevin’s connections.

Preparing for networking
Some of the factors that influence whether we attend a networking event include the subject matter of its presentation or program, time investment, location, cost, potential fellow attendees, dress code, registration system, and refund policy. Wendy recommended that we check the list of fellow registrants (whenever it’s available), reach out to those who fit our strategy for networking, plan to meet at the event, and follow up with them after the event.

As part of following up, Wendy reminded us to be aware of “paying it forward;” to have a mindset of helping others. We then become regarded as a generous, trustworthy person who is building relationships rather than focusing on selling something.

Wendy admitted to liking the numbers three and eight. She puts that affinity to work when networking by intending to meet three new people and follow up with eight – some of whom are connected to the three new contacts.

If we attend a networking event with colleagues or friends, Wendy suggested we “divide and conquer” in order to make the most connections and promote the name of our business. And be sure to introduce yourself to the host, sponsors, and speaker, and thank each for their role in the event.

Networking by using the news

  • Submit announcements about what’s new with your business (a new employee, leadership, location, product, service, alliance, etc.)
  • Send notes of congratulations to those listed in “People on the Move” and to the appropriate contact person for companies on the “The List”
  • Notice which companies are expanding and therefore who might need services, products, or additional employees

When and how to follow up a networking event
Wendy suggested that we have a system in place and to be strategic when using it because “results are truly the measure of what we apply in life.”

Take aways

  • Do a better job following up with those I meet at a networking event
  • Get results by being effective
  • Make better use of social media
  • Prepare strategically before attending an event
  • Create one new lead a day
  • Follow up by using Wendy’s three and eight philosophy
  • Make better use of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal
  • Invite a guest to the next PSA meeting – but don’t sit next to them!

Learn more about networking when Steve Kloyda, The Prospecting Expert and current president of PSA, interviewed Wendy.
http://theprospectingexpert.com/podcast/215-strategic-networking-podcast/

http://www.bizjournals.com/twincities
wblomseth@bizjournals.com

Summary by Sue Filbin, PSA media coordinator

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