Recently I have been talking to people who are new to networking and some of them are not sure if networking is worth doing. In case you fall into this category let me explain why I think networking is a vital part of any marketing strategy. It is true that I have always networked, both before and when I worked in the corporate world and certainly when I became self-employed. The only difference was that when I became self-employed, I realised that what I did had a name…networking.
People often seem to think that they network to get work and, while this is certainly one result of networking, it is not the only result. When you network you build relationships, people get to know what you do, and they learn to trust that you know what you are doing. If you build strong relationships your contacts will feel confident that their reputation is safe when they recommend you to one of their contacts. So when you network you meet people who almost become your salesforce. For some people this is all they think you get from networking and—certainly if they don’t immediately get work—they say that networking doesn’t work. Yes, it does, but you need to work at it.
There are other things you will get from networking. One is that you meet people who do other things that you may need in your business: accounts, IT, recruitment etc. They can supply their services to you which means you can concentrate on what you do, servicing your customers, developing new products or services etc. Networking enables you to grow your business because you are not being distracted by sorting your tax return, sorting out a bug on your computer or ensuring you have robust contracts for your staff.
You also get people around you who will support you on those days when things are not going as planned and you just need someone to talk to about it, and this may just be someone who you can use to rant to about life, challenges or whatever. I certainly have a few people who fill that category. (I usually find that the phrase “Is it me” gets said at some point! They can share some of their energy when you have none, but don’t forget that, at some point, the roles may be reversed and they may need you when their day is going the way they planned.
One final thing you may get is opportunities that come from networking. I’ve networked in a high security prison, a cinema with a tour included, been given access to parts of Stansted airport that I would not have had if I had not networked. I hope that you have been persuaded that networking is not just about getting work, it is so much more.
If you want some help with your networking let me help with a gift to you: my Top 20 Networking Tips. Just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.