As the owner of a membership business networking company it
could be said that, of course I want members to bring along people who might
become members, and that is true. So why should members do this? As a networker
we all want to be the person who people come to when they need some product or
service, someone who people see as someone who knows people. Why? Because if
someone asks me if I know a plumber, they are also going to ask me about my networking
if they decide they want to review the networking they do. I recommend all
types of networking to all types of people and, while I hope they will choose
my company when they decide on a membership type of commitment, I accept that
my type of networking, relaxed, informal, but business-focussed with no
pressure, is not for everyone. Some people need a formal style and pressure,
while others need a less structured approach, to get the most from their
One of my Group Directors (GDs) told me that, when they
network outside of ebn,
they talk very briefly about their own business and ask instead “What other
networking do you do?” This means they get to hear of other networking which
they might not know about, and also means that they can talk about ebn and offer an
invitation. Why should they do this? Because if the invitation is accepted and
the visitor attends, the GD can then talk about their business as part of the
meeting and surrounded by people who have used their services and who can recommend
them. Since it is always better for others to say good things about your
business, rather than you (The “You would say that wouldn’t you” syndrome) the
trust is build a little quicker.
Another reason why we should all invite people to good
networking events is that this helps build the relationship. If you tell me
about an event, I attend and have a productive time there, I think more highly
of you, the business relationship becomes stronger and who knows where that
might lead for both of our businesses. If we attend a network event together we
might spend some time together, particularly if this is a relatively new
business relationship, but we shouldn’t stay together. We are there to meet
others. It might be that I introduce you to someone with whom there might be a
synergy between your businesses. If we find we have lots more to say then we
should arrange a date to have a coffee sometime.
So invite people to good networking events, the organisers
will thank you (another benefit) and so might the person you invite.
Networking is a means of meeting
people and building relationships. Once relationships are strong then work will
flow, but remember it is not about what work can be done between the people in
front of you…that is probably very little. However none of us live in a bubble,
we all know people and we all have customers. It is about who do we know, who
do they know, and what work can flow from these connections. That’s what makes
networking exciting; as you walk into a networking event you could meet someone
who could change your life by the amount of business they give you.
So, is it just about getting
business? No it’s not. I believe that ultimately that is what we network for
but what we may find:
Confidence: the more you do it the easier it should get,
because you will hone your skills and each type of group allows you to hone
Skills: how to talk to people about your business.
Each event will provide different ways of telling people about your business,
but in my experience all events include “open networking”.
people who have a wealth of experience in their field. In my experience people
are generous with their knowledge. The challenge is always to learn, whilst not
expecting people to endlessly give for free. I have found the more referrals I
have given the more people are prepared to share their knowledge.
network of people who do things. So if you, or one of your customers or
friends, needs a plumber for example,
you will know one. Or you will know someone who knows one, and just
think if you help potential or existing
customers source suppliers what happens
when they need what you do? They come to you.
Over the years I have made many friends through networking and attended some
good social events…but that is not why I network. Networking is ultimately
about getting work.
At a recent networking event I spoke to someone who said
they never wear their name badge, because they thought it made people lazy
about remembering names. I always
wear a name badge and so I started to think about why I do. There are three
The first, and I think the most important, is that I think
we all have moments when we can’t remember a person’s name or where they work.
A quick glance at a name badge and we relax into the conversation rather than
some part of our brain wondering what the missing details are. This means we
can concentrate completely on what is being said, and surely that aids
communication and building relationships?
The second reason is that people know what to call us. So,
we may be a Matthew on our business card because it is company policy, but
everyone knows us as Matt. Having a name badge with ‘Matt’ showing gives people
permission to call us by the name we are most comfortable with. In a previous
career many people called me Glen and, at that time, only my mum called me
Glenys. My name badge showed Glen and for me it would have been strange to be
called Glenys at work, which is the name I had to use on my business card.
The final reason (and this might just be me) is that my name badge is part of my networking ‘uniform’: professional outfit, business cards and name badge. Ready to go.
So, what do you think? Are you a name badge wearer or not
and, whichever camp you stand in, why is that?