Seeking out new clients can sound like a formidable challenge. But if you set realistic goals and create a method that complements you and your interests, the process can be much less intimidating.

One valuable prospecting approach is to set goals involving networking. In other words, you determine ways to meet and interact with both potential clients and people who can connect you with prospects. Other words, you’re connecting with Centers of Influence (COIs).

Networking isn’t about simply showing up, shaking hands and handing out business cards, it’s about getting involved. Don’t think of this as a chore: The best networking opportunities are the ones you enjoy. Where do you start? Write down your hobbies, interests and passions and determine how you can turn them into networking opportunities. For example:

1) Sports. Do you play tennis or golf? Are you a runner? Do you bike? Do you go to the gym regularly? All of these activities give you the chance to meet people who may need your services. Join or create a running, biking or tennis group that meets regularly. This gives you the chance to meet socially as well.

2) Culture. Are you interested in the arts? Do you like to go to art and/or history museums? Do you like to go to plays or musical events? Do you play an instrument? Do you have an art-related hobby such as drawing, painting or woodworking? Again, you’ll find numerous opportunities to mingle with people who share your enthusiasm. Art and cultural museums often hold special events and get-togethers for members. If you play an instrument, how about joining or creating a band?

3) Civic groups and charities. What do you care about: funding for medical issues, education, the environment? Research the nonprofit organizations in your community and find one that interests you. You can serve on a board, volunteer at special events, and help with fundraising efforts. Does your college alma mater have a local chapter? Consider joining. Also, civic groups such as Rotary or a young business professionals groups can put you in touch with people from a variety of professions and help you expand your reach.

Set specific goals such as how many people you plan to introduce yourself to at a certain event. Track your progress. Also, don’t forget that networking is a two-way street. Don’t make it all about yourself and what you do. Listen and ask questions. Find out if there are ways you can connect them with other resources. Then stay connected. Remember to reward yourself for the progress you make.

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