Since I started my business nearly eight years ago, I generally take time between Christmas and New Years to do some strategic planning. One of the first things I do is look at where my projects and clients have come from during the past year. Sure enough, the results were the same as every other year. My biggest projects in 2007 came from people I met years ago through some of my more painful networking experiences.
One project was the result of a referral from my partner in a Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce golf tournament. I met a repeat client through the Chamber leads group I tried for a couple of years. Four smaller projects came from a gentleman I met at an American Marketing Association luncheon.
What's interesting is that I'm terrible at golf, and golf events make me really nervous. I haven't been in that leads group since 2003 - I found the stress of having to talk about myself and pass leads too much for me. And I attended just two of those AMA luncheons because I was not a member, and you know how hard it is to eat lunch and make conversation with a roomful of strangers. Just the thought of these types of networking activities can make an introvert cringe.
Here's what I did. I forced myself to go. I faked it, and I kept at it until networking events became easier and less stressful (even a little fun). I also followed up with each of these people, even though the calls and coffee meetings were difficult to initiate. And although we met years ago, we have managed to stay in touch.
So here are my three goals for next year - I'm going to force myself to go to a few more luncheons, golf tournaments, and other networking events. After each one, I'll follow up. Finally, I'm going to make more calls and take time for coffee with key contacts through the year.
Thanks so much for reading this blog in 2007. Have a very happy, healthy, and successful 2008!