Article | Fabulous Women

Why making time for networking is important and how to do it.

Posted on 06/08/2019

There’s no getting away from it, networking takes time, especially if you are going to do it effectively. But I believe that it’s important to make that time so in this article I’m going to explain my reasoning and share some tips for minimising the amount of time it takes.

The value of networking.

1. Winning new customers

How many times have you heard the expression ‘it’s not what you know but who you know…’? It has some validity. When I started my other business almost 27 years ago much of my early work came from referrals from my business network. Now my son is finding that his network is vital in securing jobs in the film industry.

But your network shouldn’t just be a source of leads, it should also provide your buyers with the validation that they want further along the buying journey, especially if what you are selling is a considered purchase. How often do you want reassurance when you are spending significant money? Most of us want to know that our decision is sensible and not the result of us falling for some clever marketing hype. Your prospects are the same and if someone they know knows and trusts you their affirmation can make the difference in securing the sale.

2. Finding trusted suppliers and partners

There comes a point when most of us need help whether in business or in life. Yes, we can probably do the job ourselves but is it the best use of our time? Possibly not. Knowing someone with the skills we need makes outsourcing so much easier.

And what happens when you are overloaded or have the opportunity to pitch for a project that is too big for you on your own? Yellow Pages and Google might provide you with some names but are they any good? Could you work with them? I would rather approach someone I knew, whose style and ethics I respected than some total stranger, wouldn’t you?

3. Getting support as a business leader

Whether you are a business owner or a manager in a small enterprise it can be hard to find the right person with whom to share challenges and decisions. Whilst our friends and family may care they may not understand business decisions so your network of fellow business owners may provide you with the sounding board and level of challenge that you need.

Running a business can be stressful and a supportive network of people who truly understand can make all the difference to our mental health.

And some additional benefits from the right network…

~ Inspiration… maybe you will be inspired by the success and innovations of others in the network. You may be inspired by a speaker or by another activity on the agenda. When you are busy juggling all the business tasks inspiration and time to think can be in short supply so this can be a key benefit from the right network.

 

~ Learning… at Fabulous Networking our agenda includes speakers on a wide range of topics as well as a business development slot which may be a mini coaching session or workshop, or a business hot seat. Many of our members rate the learning as a key benefit that keeps them belonging and makes finding the time extra worthwhile.

 

~ Energy… this is another benefit many of our members attribute to our meetings. They leave feeling uplifted and re-energised and ready to move mountains. That can mean you get more done in half a day than you would have done in a whole day with no energy boost.

Making time for networking

Clearly the time we spend at meetings and getting to them is a given, but we also need time for preparation and follow up. Having said that there are things we can do to minimise the time commitment…

~ Integrate your networking planning with your marketing planning. This will ensure that you know what you’ll be presenting at each meeting and will have the appropriate supporting material available as well as a clear idea of who would be a great contact. Then set up a next step sequence to nurture the new relationships you start and that integrates with your other marketing activities.

~ Prepare some basic follow up emails that you, or a personal or virtual assistant, can tweak to personalise for the people you meet at each event and which lead to the follow up sequence you prepared earlier.

~ Advance preparation will also make it easier for you to brief a substitute if you genuinely can’t make a meeting yourself. Would an existing customer benefit from attending the event? That could be a nice way to say thank you and their endorsement of your services could be very powerful.

~ If you have to travel to an event consider travelling in tandem with another attendee so that you can use the journey for a 1-2-1 or if that doesn’t work travel by public transport and use the time to catch up on reading, thinking or even managing your inbox.

And a final word whilst on the subject of time… don’t be that person who always rushes in half an hour late and misses a chunk of the meeting. For one thing you’ll miss a chance to connect with people, but you’ll also create the impression of being too busy to take on new work or to support your fellow networkers.

Of course not all networking is the same. You’ll need to choose an organisation or event that most closely meets your needs. Why not pay us a visit and see if Fabulous Networking would be right for you?  

Glenda Shawley is the Managing Director of Fabulous Networking, The Collaborative Business Network. At Fabulous Networking everyone is welcome, no lock out clauses, attendance rules or pressure to refer. We believe that people buy people and that when we share and support each other everyone can succeed. Why not visit a meeting and experience Fabulous Networking for yourself? Follow us at Facebook.com/fabulousnetworking for up to date details of our meetings each week.   

Back Author : Glenda Shawley

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