Networking doesn’t need to be scary
Wednesday, 21 June 2017
You’ve started your business, you’ve perfected your offering, now all you need to do is find someone to buy from you. Social media is an effective way to promote yourself, so why bother to network?
What puts people off networking?
Some of my clients are put off networking because they feel it involves getting up at the crack of dawn, and having to stand up and deliver a short talk to sell themselves. Some networking events are like this, and it works for some people, but there is a wide variety of networking events to suit you, the industry you are in and the type of people you are hoping to meet.
What are the benefits of networking?
Firstly, it can be a great way to win work. People often buy because they like someone and having met you, they feel they can trust you. It’s also a great chance to show your passion for what you do, and, as a result, gain some customers.
Apart from this, it’s a great way to meet people in the same boat as you. Sharing successes and mistakes with your peer group allows you to benefit from other people’s good ideas and to avoid any of the pitfalls they have suffered.
What if I meet people in the same industry as me?
On occasion, the new businesses I deal with have met people at networking events who are in the same industry as them. This can be advantageous, as some have gone on to work in partnership with those they have met, quoting for work that they would never have been able to win on their own, as by themselves they didn’t have all the skills necessary.
How do I go about it?
My first advice would be to target your networking. There are such a wide range of networking events, you could probably fill your whole week with nothing but networking, leaving you no time to complete all the work you are hopefully winning. Just attend the ones you think will bring the biggest rewards compared to the time they take up.
I would suggest thinking about what you are trying to achieve from networking and when you tend to have the most free time, and prioritise on that basis. Most networking events will either allow you to try for free or very low cost initially, so you are unlikely to have to commit up-front.
My second piece of advice would be to always follow up. No matter how well you got on with someone, if you don’t follow it up then any benefits from having met them are never likely to materialise.
Finally, I would say enter networking with no fear. Most of the people there will have been apprehensive on their first time, and they will be as interested to find out about you and your business, as you are about them.
Larking Gowen supports a number of local networking events, such as Genix Coffee Means Business, which is a relaxed, informal business networking for all local businesses. We also hold regular Business Breakfasts. These are a friendly, informal forum for local business owners with a chance to discuss and gain inspiration from other like-minded people on how to make a business more profitable.