As we enter our seventh month of not being able to network face-to-face I have started to see many cases of ‘Zoom fatigue’. (Other systems are available and have the same challenge). Often the numbers of people attending have reduced and people have become more comfortable with the system. (Strangely, our Groups reduced and have now started to grow again as parents see their children back at school.)
So, since the government guidelines are not looking like we will be able to come face-to-face again any time soon, I thought it would be helpful to remind myself why I network. I hope this helps you too.
Networking is a huge part of my marketing strategy. It enables me to meet other businesspeople, build strong relationships and from this I gain: advice, information, support and, of course, work. The latter will almost always take a while to happen, so let’s explore the first three things:
No one has experienced the situation we have all faced this year, but what I realised is that many of the challenges some have faced are the challenges that come from owning a business: cashflow, getting work, completing work, getting paid etc. In addition, there is a whole raft of never-before-experienced challenges: furloughing staff, preparing for people to work from home, preparing for people to work in the office. However, both these sets of challenges are helped by people offering advice, usually from their own experiences. This happens whether face-to-face across a table or face-to-face across a screen. When networking you meet people you can trust who will offer advice. You then decide whether to take it.
This is, of course, closely linked to advice. The difference is that information usually comes from people’s area of expertise. For example, you may want to wade through the intricacies of furloughing staff and the HMRC, I do not. I get information from my accountant and sometimes, while networking, I get the latest, ‘hot off the press’ information from an accountant who is attending. (When I finish networking I usually find this information from my accountant in my inbox but that is by the by.)
There are times for many businesspeople when things don’t go well or as planned, don’t get started, or seem never to end. Self-employment in its different disguises can be a lonely place and through networking we can gain contacts who will listen (occasionally) to our rants, our troubles, our whinges. They may offer advice and information but what they really will offer is their attention. Naturally we have to remember that this should not be every day!
These times have been for some, psychologically and practically, difficult times. Members tell me they have really appreciated the support they have received, now more than ever. Because we work using the Chatham House rule they feel able to be completely honest and this has always been helpful.
If you would like to see my blog on networking, here’s the link: https://www.ebn.uk.com/blog/?p=37
And if you would like my top 20 networking tips, go to: https://www.ebn.uk.com and claim your free download