Prior to setting up my own business I had no real knowledge of what networking was or how one went about doing it! However, I do remember the exact moment when it all clicked into place! I was actually on the telephone to an online insurance salesman, only a few months into trading. We were talking about developing and building new relationships in addition to maintaining existing ones.
My realisation was this; what happens if I wake up tomorrow and for one reason or another my existing clients are no longer there. In a split second I considered all of the marketing channels available to me. I could put together an advert, although I know in practice this works better as part of a strategy rather than in desperation. Door knocking wouldn’t be feasible, it would be awfully time consuming and, like a leaflet drop, would probably generate little return, unless I recruited an army or the companies themselves had prior knowledge of me, which of course they didn’t.
What I needed was to build a network of people around me; supporters, flag-wavers, referees and recommenders! People, with whom I could build a relationship, educate them about what I do, learn about what they do and look for synergies and opportunities as our trust and mutual respect for each other deepened.
I became a bit of a networking tart for a while as I investigated all of the local opportunities! If I was going to invest my money I wanted to make the right choice for me and my business. I finally chose Viva Networking which offers flexibility over days, locations and times. Occasionally I attend Business Biscotti as well. I find different groups offer different things.
Anyway, I met a lady recently who told me that networking ‘didn’t work’ for her. As you can imagine I was really surprised to hear this; how could any business person not benefit from meeting new people (ie, potential contacts) and following the process above. If it’s not working for you, perhaps consider your objectives and what you do post event and look at other organisations too, but don’t just write it off!
For further information on the power of networking, different types of networking etc, visit this Business Link page. Alternatively, just search in Google for Networking and enter your town or county.
Thanks for reading!