Most successful networking is local. Being there in person is almost always necessary for first-time meetings. That being the case, what if you want to expand into the next town over (or maybe one that is a little further away)?
That requires some strategic planning.
First of all, make sure your existing network is strong. You are going to have to take some attention away from it so you can grow your connections in the remote location. You don’t want your home town support to fade while your attention is elsewhere. While you are doing that, put out the word that you are trying to make connections in the new locale. Your network could very well give you some great starting points with personal introductions to boot.
You will probably have to join a group or two in your new target location. Pick these not only based on the other criteria we’ve discussed in the past, but also you may also want to consider groups which hold networking events on the same day (but not the same time, of course). This way you can double up on any visit.
Once you know what events you will be attending and when, set up additional one-to-one meetings with potential connections in the new town. The goal is to be as efficient as possible about this. Conceivably, you might be able to do a couple of networking events and four or five one-to-ones all in the same day.
Finally, follow up with the potential networking sources just as you would any other. The only difference will be that you may have to make a more concerted effort to provide value to your new contacts. Because you won’t be able to have a quick coffee with them at any time, sending articles, newsletters, and making the occasional phone call will have to make up for the lack of proximity.
As with most efforts, calling on your network is going to make your life a lot easier. As you continue to connect with more people in your target area, they will be able to connect you further. It may take a while, but surprisingly quickly your new target city will view you as a native.