Here’s an idea: instead of making 2012 resolutions, which are often idealistic and unrealistic, create a 2012 Relationship-building Plan.

It is practical, concrete and can help you achieve maximum benefits from your networking endeavors. Almost all of you will agree that networking – whether face-to-face, online or preferably both – is still the number one way to increase sales, get a job and enhance your career success.

Sure, the plan takes a while to create; however with slight modifications, it can last you for years to come. It will also keep you from fishing for trout in a catfish pond … you’ll know where to find your target market or people who can introduce you to your target market.

Start by writing down the focus of your business or if you are in transition what you would like to do. Some of you may well say: “That’s easy. I know what I do.” My experience after working with thousands of people nationwide is that most people have difficulty succinctly articulating what they do. As I teach my business writing students: “Follow Thomas Jefferson’s advice and never use two words when one will do.”

Secondly, determine your U.O. What’s your Unique Offering? How do you do what you do differently? Why would people hire you or buy your products or services when they know five other people who supposedly do or sell the same thing?

Next determine your target markets. Spend time on the demographics. Who, what, when, why, where, how do they buy? This in itself could easily take you an hour or more. However, you will now have valuable information at your fingertips.

Now it’s time to answer the question, “Where are you most likely to find your target market?” List organizations, groups and events your target markets are likely to frequent. You need to zero in on the few that are relevant to you. You don’t have time to try a dozen different groups, much less pay dues and activities’ fees.

Another helpful hint is to know where to find the organizations/events that are frequented by your markets or those who can introduce you to them. Be creative. Check the web for local chapters of national organizations. Peruse print and online and calendars of events. Also, make a list of whom you already know, divided into such categories as business; professional /civic/industrial organizations, etc.

Above all, finish the plan. A half-finished plan will give you half-baked results.

Author's Bio: 

Lillian Bjorseth helps you build a new kind of wealth -social capital - by improving your networking and communication skills. She's an award-winning speaker, DiSC trainer, presentation and communication skill coach and author.