By now most of us know that networking is an essential part of entrepreneurial success. However, those of us not blessed with natural networking skills need a strategy to get the most out of the practice. One component of a successful networking plan is buddy networking. The key to making the buddy approach work for you is to select the right partner or partners, because there’s no rule about only having one networking buddy, and to follow through with your plans.
Start by inviting a person with harmonizing skills to join you at an event. Some good pairings might be: introvert/extrovert, newcomer/long-time resident, techie/noob. Another good choice is an entrepreneur who runs a complementary business. For example, a wedding planner and travel agent or a business coach and a web designer might be looking at the same kind of customer base but for different reasons.
Once you have a partner, share your individual networking goals for the event, and discuss what you’d each like to accomplish in the near future. Review your introductions (elevator speech) with each other.
Meeting and greeting is useless without follow-up. You and your buddy can hold each other accountable for seeing through offers to call, email or drop by businesses. Schedule a time about a week after the event to touch base to find out what opportunities may have grown out of the event. Talk about when you can do it again.
Networking is a vital activity, but that doesn’t mean is shouldn’t be fun and enjoyable. Partnering up for networking events makes you more effective and helps insure follow-up. A networking buddy also means you will have at least one person to talk to in the room, and sometimes just knowing that will reduce networking anxiety. So, buddy up and get more fun and results from networking.