An old proverb says, “It’s now what you know, it’s who you know” but is there any truth to it?
In the world of business, is everyone else simply a competitor, or are we stronger, more resilient and much better equipped to cope with change and challenges together?
I, along with many others, believe that we are better together, that makes networking vitally important Here are some reasons why, along with one or two top tips on how to network better…
What does a network mean to you?
My own networks are not only local (with Colony Networking), but stretch the length and breadth of the British Isles. It includes fellow Virtual Assistants, clients and those I that I can lend value to. Not just to the services that I offer but to my wider life in general.
A great tip for networking is to speak to the organiser. Ask them what businesses attend, what the structure is, costs. Commonality plays a big part in networking, there are many aimed specifically at my industry, but there are many others too. Small business networks, such as creative industry networks, those for single mums in business, working mums, semi-retirees, and the list are endless.
Networking Tip: Keep in mind that any time you meet someone, it is an opportunity to expand the number of people you know.
Some networking meeting groups have exclusive membership. This means that there may be only one of each business type at the meeting. Other groups are open to all. Find the ones you are drawn to, the ones you feel you have something in common with (they might have a presence on social media or professional networking sites) or that you feel a connection with. Then jump in for a meeting. One of the meetings I go to has 3 virtual assistants in. We are all different and offer different specialisms.
Get networking (the right way)
How on earth do you go about behaving in your network once you have jumped on board? Many these days meet virtually via Zoom or share thoughts and ideas via group pages on LinkedIn and Facebook sites.
What is the etiquette?
Do we sit quietly, daring not to join in, should we post every few days or go straight for the hard sell and set about the task of singling out fellow members who might be useful to us in some way?
Well, none of those things are helpful in reality… The best thing to do is relax and be you. Attend events regularly; be polite, positive, supportive and always approachable. Share genuine ideas and insight and be there to listen and engage.
Remember that you are there to help, and people will see you that way, you will start to earn authority and trust.
– Be someone helpful. Someone to bear in mind when your service or product is needed. Someone who adds value to their network in much the same way as you may add value to someone’s business. Those qualities will sell you more than any elevator pitch ever could.
My networking ethos
My services, just like so many others, can mean different things to different people, getting to know them is vital, and networking gives us all the ideal opportunity to do just that.
One last networking tip. Put hard-sell and competition aside and spend a little time this year building and adding value to your professional network, you will almost certainly be surprised at how it might change your outlook and your business for the better.