Whether you’ve recently set up a new business or you’re looking to make new contacts for your existing business, networking really is key. When I became self employed and set up my first business in 2009, I didn’t realise networking would be ‘the difference that made the difference’, but it truly was.
Being new to the networking scene at that time, I felt more comfortable in a structured networking environment and after trying several, landed on WIBN Women in Business Network, a national women’s network of like minded local groups of business women and membership was one of the best investments I’ve made. In fact I value this type of networking so much, I am now a WIBN Associate and run 4 groups locally!!
But enough about me! Networking brings value to our business on so many levels, from support to inspiration, an opportunity to collaborate and a safe sounding board to bounce ideas off, to name but a few. Naturally a key focus of networking is to gain more business and in my experience, that is best done by creating really solid relationships, taking the time to get to know the members of the group.
It’s a given that we’re much more likely to do business with people we know, like and trust and that doesn’t happen in one meeting! That’s why, at WIBN we meet on a monthly basis, that regular commitment to the meetings is key and members frequently set up 121’s outside of the meeting to sit down over coffee and get to know each other both personally and professionally. Friendships are born because we have business in common, along with the goal of wanting to grow those businesses, so naturally, strong friendships tend to form.
Here are my top tips for successful networking!
- Arrive early! There’s nothing worse than rushing into a networking meeting flustered and it doesn’t present a great first image to people you’ve not met previously!
- Remember you are the face of your business. We are all our own best marketing tool and it’s important to present the image that goes along with that.
- Prepare your 1 minute in advance! We’ve all winged a 1 minute before now, but you’re much more likely to get your message across if you’ve taken time to think about it previously.
- Leave the jargon in the office! People want to know how you can help them, not how you’re going to do it!
- How can I help you? If you network with this approach it’s likely to come back 10 fold. None of us like to be sold to and it’s really satisfying to help someone. When you’ve helped them, they will naturally want to help you.
- Questions! The best way to get to know someone is to ask questions, gives you the opportunity to find some common ground and make a proper connection.
- Remember you’ll meet introverts and extroverts! We’re all different and for a lot of people networking is not a natural or comfortable environment and remembering that not everyone may be feeling comfortable goes a long way.
- Follow up! It may seem obvious, but if someone asks you for something, follow up that same day, or the following day at the very latest. If you’ve a lead for someone or have asked for a 121, be proactive and arrange it, it all goes to building the trust.
- Connect on social media. This can be a great way of learning more about the people you’re connected with, keeping up to date with what they’re doing and that works both ways!!
Anna Botsford is a WIBN Business Associate as well as hypnotherapist and Master NLP and EFT Practitioner- her passion is to empower clients to make positive and lasting changes in their lives.
Anna’s WIBN groups can be found in our directory here.