• Claire Shelley

Networking

Updated: Aug 6, 2020



Business Networking


Let’s talk networking! If you are new to business networking, the thought of it may fill you with dread, but there are so many benefits, it's worth making time for.


Going to a networking group for the first time can be nerve-wracking, not everyone is comfortable walking into a room full of strangers. If you are just starting up your business, you may struggle to explain what it is you do and what you can offer.


Here are a few things I have learnt along the way which may help you.


Be prepared


At some meetings, though not all have this format, you might need to do a short talk about your business. You may have heard this referred to as an Elevator Pitch. At one of the groups I attend, everyone talks for one minute about their business and the type of clients they are looking for.


Practice your pitch out loud and time how long it lasts. Write it down if you need to and take notes with you, other networkers would rather you make the effort to prepare rather than winging it. Try to focus on the problems that you can solve for your clients and how, rather than selling your services.


Don't put pressure on yourself


Simply go along and enjoy meeting new people. Don't feel that you have to sell your product/service or gain prospective clients at every meeting. Think of it as expanding your network and gaining new contacts who will potentially mention you to their own network once they've grown to like and trust you.


Don't be afraid to go up and interrupt groups of people talking, in my experience people don't mind this, networking groups are very welcoming. Smile and ask lots of questions about what people do.


You might find out what a person does and think that the connection is unlikely to translate into business, but networking includes a group of people beyond who is in the room. Even if the person you are chatting to doesn't directly need your services, they may know someone who does.


Don't expect instant results either it's about building up relationships first.


Choose which group suits you best


Going to a networking group takes time out of your day, so pick wisely. See which ones are at a good time for you, ask around for reviews, try a few. It's likely that not all events are going to be right for your business.


Weigh up the financial investment versus the value you're going to gain from it over time. Look at whether the people who attend are your target audience, because if they're not, then you're going to have to work harder to get yourself known by the right people.


Summary


For a new business and especially if your prospective clients are in the local area, networking is invaluable. You learn from experienced members who can help you make more educated decisions.


If you are a one-woman-band like me, it is a great place to chat to like-minded people. You get to socialise, bounce ideas off each other, voice concerns, gain feedback and of course offer your support in return.


Oh and don't forget to take your business cards!



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