Saturday, March 15, 2008

Strategic Networking: 5 Steps to Snag Hard-to-Reach Prospects

Strategic networking is the process of focusing your time and attention on reaching the big fish.

You can go out every night of the week and meet dozens of people at Chamber meetings, professional association dinners, or fund raising events. If you are a member of the plaintiff's bar, this is probably not a bad approach (although it is time consuming). However, you have little control over who you meet.

But what if your time is limited and you need to see a better return on your networking activities?

Let's say as an example that you are a partner in a defense law firm offering some type of healthcare legal service to hospitals, clinics, HMOs, or other health care related firms. In order to maximize your referral networking time, you want to connect with the Chief Financial Officer, Chief Risk Officer, in-house General Counsel, or Chief Executive Officer. Unfortunately, these people can be hard to reach.

Here is a way to reach the person with purchasing authority through your networking efforts.

1. First, identify the top 5 to 10 local firms in the health care industry that you want to reach. (D&B's Zapdata - - is a great way to compile your list)

2. Write down the names of the 3-5 executives within each firm who would be good contacts for you.

3. Do some research to find out where these prospects and/or their employers get involved in the community, like the local Chamber or Economic Development Organization.

4. Start to attend meetings of the organizations where your prospects are involved.

5. Once you meet someone within a target firm, ask for referrals and introductions that will eventually get you in front of your intended prospect.

This is likely to take some time, and you may need to volunteer for a committee or project, but it will be time well spent. The bottom line, if done properly, is your success in opening a new account with one of your top prospects.

Remember the secret to business development: never stop marketing!

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