When your prospecting and cold calling are letting you down, what can you do to freshen things up? How can you get doors to open instead of close? Volunteer, and do so in a strategic way.
Volunteering is a wonderful way to stay involved in your community. Most communities have literally hundreds of opportunities open to you. When you participate in a charitable organization, you inevitably meet new people, and strengthen your reputation. You can sign up as yourself, or as a representative of your company. I recommend you volunteer in circumstances where you’re in contact with a lot of people, not situations where you interact with only a couple. Your goal is to meet and interact with as many people with a similar goal as possible. There are charity walks, charity runs, and Habitat for Humanity community projects. There are children’s sports, charity auctions, and religious groups. Find a place to volunteer where you’ll be exposed to dozens or even hundreds of people.
Choose a cause you believe in and respect. It’s key to participate in community efforts that are genuinely important to you. If you are only volunteering to increase your network, you’ll resent every moment of effort, and it will damage your reputation. Instead, the idea is to aid your organization of choice while you add new members to your network to help you reach deeper into your target market and overall community. If you’re like most people, there are several groups you’d be happy to help. Find local groups and events on websites like Volunteer Match and Volunteer Connection. How does it work?
While you’re working at your event, make an effort to get to know your co-volunteers. It’s a networking opportunity on a much more personal level than the usual. The fact that you’re volunteering shows that you’re responsible and hard-working. You and your co-volunteers have an interest in common, and you both care enough to donate your time. You’ll have some business cards in your pocket, so you’ll be able to share them with your new contacts before you leave. Make sure to take their information, too.
During the next work week, treat your new contacts like you would for any other networking opportunity. Reach out to your new contacts and remind them of your meeting. Invite them to coffee or happy hour. Slowly move your new relationship in a professional direction.
Any of your new connections may be a door to a new level of professional networking. The more people you know in your community, the more doors will open for you.