Relationships First. Activities Second.
The natural tendency following an exciting networking event is to activate the participants as a group. While social activities are fun, they can also distract from the initial stages of relationship building. Create an environment for trusting, caring relationships, and the activities will follow naturally.
Step One: Reconnect
As soon as possible, reconnect with everyone using a social media vehicle that everyone feels comfortable using. Help everyone else to reconnect with the other participants, too. Ask questions about what they liked about the event and about scheduling a follow up meeting.
Step Two: Discover
Typically, a networking event is a lot of story telling, identifying connections with other people, and sharing contact information. The next step is to formalize introductions. Create an event or series of events where each person can introduce themselves to the rest of the group. Have them answer questions that help the rest of the group get to know them, their passion, and how it is expressed in their life and work. Have each person share what their expectations are for a-group-like-this. It is important that the group defines what their group is to be.
Step Three: Give
The best networking groups are oriented toward giving, not getting. Do something as a group that benefits someone or some other group. Set up an online meeting space where participants can contribute to help each other’s work through solving problems, exploring issues and how to fulfill their opportunities.
A one page copy of this action plan can be downloaded at http://edbrenegar.typepad.com/Post%20Linchpin%20MeetUp%20Action%20Plan.pdf