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Intentional Networking

by Denise Goodyear

When I started my career in 2001, I was pretty green. Naive as I was, however, I have somehow always known that a fundamental key to success was surrounding yourself with the right network of people. I rely on my networks in a multitude of ways to grow my business. My intentional involvement allows me to confidently say that each network I am a part of has helped me succeed.

While working with clients to develop marketing plans and budgets, I always explore any membership organizations that they belong to and ask them about the value they feel they receive. I am often met with blank stares when I try to quantify what the group (or event) has done for their business. There is almost always uncertainty around what they “got out of it.” I always challenge them by asking what they “put into it,” and what follows tends to be met with the same response: that they never really thought about it like that.

We often participate in groups because our competitors are there, a friend or colleague encouraged us to join, or it just feels like somewhere we need to be. But why? Most entrepreneurs are already feeling overwhelmed with a multitude of tasks.

In 2001, my radio colleagues laughed about how they got to pass the torch to the new recruit who would take over as the “delegate” for the local membership organizations. They were delighted to offload that role on the newbie. But what they saw as an inconvenience, I saw as an opportunity to build my network.

Now don’t get me wrong—I wasn’t as comfortable then as I am now walking into a room and introducing myself to people. Back then I felt just as apprehensive as anyone else. Building your confidence in networking situations takes time. It has become easier, but, like anyone, I still feel anxiety about trying to be “on” and interesting and charming, to not bump into people, spill your drink, or knock something over with your purse . . . or maybe that’s just me. It can feel like a lot of pressure, especially for introverts, and especially if it’s exacerbated by a chaotic day. As with anything we do in business, however, we feel more confident when we have a plan.

So where do we begin planning? It starts with intention: evaluate which organizations are truly worth the investment of both your time and your budget.

Explore your motivations

Start by asking yourself why you’re going to an organization’s meetings or events. Reasons can include gaining exposure to build your profile, personal growth and skill development, education and experience, giving back through volunteer work and mentorship, and even simply recognition and praise. Acknowledging why you plan to participate in a group or event will increase the level of intention you bring to the experience.

Set realistic goals

Set goals for your work within the organization. Decide to volunteer on a committee, attend four events, or gain three new clients.

For best results, create a realistic goal for each motivation. For example, if one of your motivations is to give back to your industry, then join a volunteer committee where your expertise is needed.

Consider all the costs

Involvement in industry or membership organizations—and the networking opportunities that come with them—are tactics within your marketing plan. Therefore, we need to consider all the costs to assign a budget. As entrepreneurs we tend to only consider the financial costs, such as event and membership fees, sponsorships, and so forth. It’s equally important to budget for your time.

If you choose to volunteer on a committee or board, ask questions to gauge how much time you need to invest, based on the goals you wish to achieve. Ask about the frequency and length of events, so you can budget properly. When we overextend ourselves, we end up existing instead of thriving.

Pro Tip: Use the same process to evaluate event attendance and sponsorship opportunities. When we consider our motivations, set goals, and consider all the costs for attending an event, we remember why we’re there and create better results.

Network with intention

This process can be used to evaluate an organization you are considering participation in or to evaluate the effectiveness of one you’ve already invested in. By starting with your motivations, you ultimately end up planning your level of involvement. This approach gives you confidence when investing in the group because you’ve done the homework and proven to yourself it is a sound investment of time and budget. The consciousness about why you are there will help you engage with others intentionally.

I look forward to seeing you at the next NLOWE event. And if you are still feeling insecure or uncomfortable, look for me: I’m sure we can find something to talk about!

Denise Goodyear, president of Intuitive Media, has spent more than 20 years helping clients optimize their marketing strategies and budgets to achieve real results. An active networker, volunteer, mentor, and speaker, she follows all the latest marketing trends to provide the latest knowledge, tech, and tools to help businesses grow through traditional and digital marketing strategies and advertising.

For more information or to book a consultation for your business or organization, visit or contact Denise at 709.770.4299 or

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