Category: Business relationships

What can you expect from networking?

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.

Have fun,

Glenys

Why network?

Recently I was talking to a contact, let’s call him Fred, about some work his company had just started. He was really surprised, because he knew that a lot of people had gone for the work and his company was quite a small one. They could do the work, but he was surprised that he had won the work rather than one of the larger, better-known companies. I asked him how he had heard of the work and he said that a business contact had told him, and introduced him to the potential customer. My next question was “How did your contact and the potential customer know each other?”  He said that they played golf each week.

Now, assuming that his prices and service provision were similar to all the other potential suppliers there had to be something that gave him the edge. In my opinion, it was that he was connecting with someone who wanted to use his company. Why? Because someone who the potential customer knew and who he met once a week had made the connection. They probably knew each other well and they trusted each other and Fred’s contact was willing to put his reputation on the line by introducing them. That’s why he got the contract. That’s networking.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me and my business to know that I fundamentally believe in networking as a powerful marketing tool. It turns cold connections into (at least) warm connections. It puts your company in front of potential customers, even when you are not there. It puts you in front of people you might not have ever met, and it raises your profile. My question who be: Why would you not network?

If you want some networking hints and tips let me help with a gift: my Top 20 networking tips. Just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

Be polite. Please. Thank you.

Recently I was shopping in Chelmsford and as I went to the door of one shop I saw that someone was coming the other way. Since my mam did a good job on me, I opened the door and held it open for them to come through, which they did, along with another couple of people. As each went past and ignored me, I did my customary thing of saying “You’re welcome” and got nothing.  My beloved has long told me that one day someone will turn on me because of this habit or another one I have. What is it? When I am in a shop and someone doesn’t say please when asking for (in my mind ‘demands’) something without saying please, I will say it for them.

This got me thinking: was it an age thing? A cultural thing? A male/female thing? Why do people seem not to say please or thank you anymore? So, I started to do some research and actively noted when I got please and/or thank you as appropriate. I also actively noted when I didn’t. The latter was easier because I had the urge to growl when I was ignored.

The results? Well from a fairly small sample (does it show that I live with a statistician?) I discovered that there was no clear correlation between those who, in my opinion, are ill-mannered and those who weren’t, based on any of the categories given above. Some were polite and some not. The other thing I realised was that I judged them based on this behaviour. Now what if that was someone I met in business? The same judgement would be made, and I don’t develop relationships with impolite people. Now It might be that I am just old and judgemental. That is, of course, a possibility. Would you, as a businessperson, want to take that chance? It might be that I know someone who would be your best connection, but I wouldn’t put you in front of them because when I make a referral my reputation is on the line. What if you are impolite to my referral? I wouldn’t take the chance, others might.

So I have a plea: can you make sure you fall into the ‘polite group’ rather than the other lot? Please. Thank you.

Thank you for reading, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

Brave self-employed people

Recently I was talking to a contact about being self-employed and she said that she hadn’t realised how brave you need to be when you are self-employed. This got me thinking. When I decided to leave the corporate world 25 years ago I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, just that I was having no fun, despite all the trappings of success: secretary, large office, and a parking space in London. (This latter benefit was the one that people used to get very excited about!) When talking to my beloved about leaving and setting up a business my beloved said, “Well, you’ve never done bosses well” and he was right. I always wanted to have an input, even just a tweak, of any project. Often this didn’t happen, which was frustrating. I also seemed to be spending more time keeping the politics of the organisation away from my teams so they could get on with their work, which was draining. So I decided to leave.

I was lucky in that we could afford for me to not make money, but I found it difficult not to have money coming in as I set up my first venture, an interior design business. I went from having a role I understood, with money every month, with bonus and pay rise every year to complete uncertainty about what to do, when to do it, how to do it and not worry about income. Slowly I learnt, with a lot of help from people I met, people I already knew, and a government organisation called Business Link (now sadly no more) which provided help and advice. Brilliant… and free! In fact, I was helped by people I networked with. There were nights when I didn’t sleep, sometimes because I was excited and sometimes because I was frightened, and sometimes because I was excited and frightened.

But brave? No, I never felt that.  The uncertainty suits my nature and I realised that I liked the uncertainty, the challenge of developing a business, finding opportunities and changing business, but this does not make me brave, it makes me happy. Some self-employed people might be brave, those that have to make enough to pay the bills, those that invest their redundancy money or savings to start a business. It does also not mean that those who are employed are not brave, because some provide stability for those, like me, who are having an adventure.

Whatever way you define yourself here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun

Glenys

Is it me? Am I just “Old school”… and is that a bad thing?

Recently I was talking to one of my contacts about what we wear when we are networking and let’s just say we have different styles!

I know that during lockdown some people changed their style…although I would never find that “I just got out of bed” look…or, even worse, the “I’m actually in bed just lying on top of the covers” look. I need to dress for work, and by dress, I mean make-up on, hair brushed and appropriate clothes on. In order to have full disclosure. when networking virtually I’m probably not wearing shoes, but apart from that I’m dressed as I would be if I were networking face to face. I’m representing my company and, because I want to build relationships with like-minded people, I dress smartly and by smartly, I mean business-smart. Smart casual is saved for the weekend.

The person I was discussing this with was dressed smart casual. I asked him whether he would change what he wore if he was meeting with a potential customer, a customer who would be the absolute best cherry on the cake. He said no, this is how he dressed for work. Since we know each other well I asked him “Is it me getting it wrong? Am I just a different generation? Am I old school?

He thought for a moment the he said basically “Maybe, yes and yes” That got me thinking. Do I need to rethink how I dress? One of my concerns is that if I move my style of dress for work more towards the smart casual, does that become the new norm and might it slowly move towards the casual? I believe that if I want to attract business people to me (particularly those I want to emulate) I should dress in a similar style. So my question is: Is it me? Am I just “Old school”… and is that a bad thing? For now I’m going to continue dressing as I have always dressed for work, where I feel comfortable which is not wearing “comfortable” clothes.

Whatever you are wearing as you read this, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun

Glenys

Networking?…it’s not really working

At the beginning of the year I was talking to a business contact about why his networking seemed to have stopped being so effective. He thought it was because people felt they couldn’t spend money because we are living in uncertain times or, he said, it might be because he was not meeting people face-to-face. So we started to talk in more depth because, he said, things were really not going well and they had been going very well.

The first question I asked was, had anything changed with his marketing? Well, of course, we were no longer allowed to meet face-to-face, but I know many people who had flourished despite having to use virtual meetings. So, not being able to meet face-to-face couldn’t be the problem, or at least not all of the problem. I also know many companies who have managed to maintain, and even grow, their business throughout the difficult times we have been living through. So, there is money out there that people want, or need, to spend.

Then he said “I really don’t like networking at virtual meetings”. (I’ve paraphrased a long monologue that he needed to get off his chest about what he really didn’t like about virtual meetings). Some of the things he mentioned are covered in my blog “Would you do that if we were meeting face to face?”

The main thing that came out was that he was networking less, so he was not meeting new contacts, and he was not nurturing those contacts he had made before March 2020. So we made a plan (I love a plan). We looked at what had happened to those networking events he used to attend and, for those which had started meeting virtually, we developed a diary of events he could attend. We also looked at what events were now available virtually and added them to his diary. He decided he would start by attending two or three a week. Finally, he decided to set aside half an hour a day for getting in touch with people he had lost touch with, to renew and develop the contacts he had worked hard to nurture. He actually made a promise to himself to do all this because, as he said ”I never break a promise.”

Every couple of weeks we would have a quick catch-up telephone chat, and guess what? Money is coming in! The reason it worked? Because you have to work at networking and keep working at it, otherwise it doesn’t work.

If you want more networking tips go to: Top 20 networking tips or get in touch if you would like me to work with you to improve your networking.

Have fun, stay safe.

Glenys

 

Meeting etiquette

Recently I was in a breakout room with someone who I had known since the first lockdown. Usually, she was great to spend time with: upbeat, knowledgeable in her field and not pushy. Today it was different, she obviously had to get something off her chest. It seems that, in the main room, someone was eating while being on camera, and she was irate!

My understanding of what was being said was that she thought this was unprofessional and disrespectful since, she said, whilst concentrating on eating, full attention was not being given to whatever was being said. Also, part of the problem was how close we are when we are meeting via a screen rather than when in a face-to-face meeting. Suffice to say once she had her say, she calmed down and became the upbeat, knowledgeable-in-her-field and not-pushy person I had known so far.

Now, I hadn’t seen the person eating, but her strong response got me thinking:

  • First, is eating during virtual meetings acceptable?
  • Next, if no, what is acceptable to consume?
  • And finally, the issue of people multi-tasking during meetings.

So, let’s look at each issue a bit more.

Is eating during virtual meetings acceptable?

Well, I’d rather not watch someone eating, and some people, I think, forget they are not sat on their own in their dining room. They shovel it in, munch away and keep inspecting whatever food is left in their hand. I don’t really like it and I do think it looks unprofessional. After all, how many meetings do you go to with potential customers where you eat your toast during the meeting? I don’t feel very strongly, but I would rather not see it in a virtual meeting. Furthermore, there’s no travelling time, so this saved time could be used to have the food before the meeting.

If eating is not acceptable, then is anything acceptable?

Now, I must admit to a challenge I have. I drink cappuccinos and, when I do, I have to stop myself from licking the spoon. There. It’s said, I’m working on it and trying my best. Phew! That’s better now it’s in the open. Anyway, from that you can see that I think it’s OK to drink non-alcoholic drinks during a virtual meeting—but from a glass, cup or receptacle that has been produced for drinking from. Not, as I saw once, drinking from the container it was bought in.

Multi-tasking during meetings

My contact was in part annoyed because she thought if people are eating, they are not concentrating on what is being said. I agree, and if you want to know more about this go to: https://www.ebn.uk.com/blog/?p=154

What do you think?

(And, in case you are saying, “Don’t ebn meet over breakfast?” Yes, we do, and we stop any kind of presenting while we all eat breakfast and chat to our neighbours, and we sit further apart than we do when we meet virtually.)

If you want more networking tips go to: https://blog.ebn.uk.com/tips-on-networking.html

Have fun, stay safe.

Glenys

It all happens subliminally.

Recently I was talking to a business contact about someone we both knew. He said “Oh I’d never refer him to my contacts, he’s always late and disorganised” I was surprised since I also thought the same thing. I was interested to work out why we had come to the same conclusion but we both didn’t really know why.

We discussed it further and realised that it was based on two things:

1 Arriving late at meetings, even virtual ones!

Now, neither of us had actively thought about this individually, but both of us thought he was always late, without being able to say when he had been late, how late and how often. We just both thought he was always late, and we wouldn’t make any introductions because we assumed he’d turn up late to any meeting.

2 Not prepared.

Again, we realised that we hadn’t made a decision about this, we just thought he was ill-prepared. My contact said he never came to a meeting and seemed to have thought about the meeting. In addition, my contact had once seen him give a presentation at an event and he didn’t seem to know what was coming next…and it was his presentation! Oh, and he had turned up late!

So why is any of this important?

We need to know that we all make judgements: “Wouldn’t have put those shoes with that dress” at a base level to “Wouldn’t refer him/her to my best client” at a much more important level. The problem is that some judgements we know we are making, even if we try not to.  Some judgements we make subliminally and those are the ones that are much more difficult to deal with.

The important thing is to know that subliminally we are all being judged, and so perhaps we need to behave as if we are trying to make a first impression.

What do you think?

If you want more networking tips go to: https://blog.ebn.uk.com/tips-on-networking.html

Have fun, stay safe

Glenys

I’m too busy to network

Recently I was talking to a business contact who said she was too busy at the moment to network. It is great that her business is thriving, but I think she is wrong about thinking the right time to network is when she is not busy.

Why? Because networking takes time. It’s a slow burn and people need to get to know you before they will be prepared to trust their reputation by referring you to their contacts. If you don’t network there may be a steep downturn between busy and no work at all. You need to maintain relationships, or even start to build relationships. I know this balancing of actual work against possible work is difficult, but remember: networking can be done by email, via social media, telephone calls, virtual meetings or 1-2-1s. Networking is about starting conversations, starting to build relationships. If the past months have taught us anything, it is that face-to-face is fantastic. I can’t wait to get back to those meetings, but there are other ways that allow networking.

Also, when you network skills are learnt, maintained and improved by practice, so if you stop networking, because you’re too busy, your skills can become rusty. In addition, maintaining your networking means that you stay on people’s radar. If you stop networking people will forget you, however fabulous you are, or think you’ve gone out of business, particularly given the challenging times we have all had since March 2020.

One of the things I have noticed in this last year+ is the number of new people who are networking, either because they decided to start a business in a very difficult year or because they have started to network because they feel more confident being in their office than in a room full of people. (If this is you, make face-to-face networking easy by reading my blog “The 3-3-3 rule” https://www.ebn.uk.com/blog/?p=34 )

Why is this relevant to your decision to network or not? Because if you don’t network you will miss the opportunity to meet all these new people and that’s a fabulous opportunity missed in my opinion, because you don’t know who they know.

So—don’t leave networking for when you aren’t busy. Add some networking to your diary every day, even if it’s just a phone call as you drink your morning coffee. Find a way to maintain your presence, contacts, and relationships. Networking works, I know. I now do it for a living.

If you want more networking tips go to: https://blog.ebn.uk.com/tips-on-networking.html

Have fun, stay safe

Glenys

It’s not personal.

I have a philosophy of life. You live it to the full, grabbing adventures and opportunities, laughing a lot, having excitement, and never settling for less than the best. This applies to all aspects of my life including my business. In fact, how I approach networking is that “you don’t have to be serious to be serious about business”[1].

So, what’s the problem?

Well, those people who ‘get’ me and my approach may be surprised to learn that some people don’t like my approach. I’ve been told that I’m overwhelming, I’m frivolous about networking, and that business is serious and should be treated seriously. I am happy that people feel able to voice their opinion. I also like that, as with any such feedback I receive, I can listen, think about it, and then change my behaviour, or not.

One person summed it up nicely “You’re a Marmite kind of person” I’m happy with that. Whoever we are, whatever we are like, someone won’t like us, the way we act, speak, how we dress…you get the idea. It might be that if people give us feedback they are trying to be helpful. For example, it might be they are giving advice based on how you are dressed and how the customers you are trying to attract dress.

During our lives, both personal and business, we make decisions that others may not like, approve of or support. That’s fine. Their opinion is based on their life and business experiences and their approach to life. Don’t worry, it isn’t personal. It can feel personal, but it really isn’t.

  • Potential customers say no to your product for all sorts of reasons.
  • Existing customers stop using your product for all kinds of reasons.

Think about when you decided that you didn’t want to use, or continue to use, a particular supplier…how often was that decision based on some personal reason?

You may want to reflect on any feedback they give you, and then change your product, process, system, or behaviour…or you may not. Because, whatever you decide, it’s not personal.

What do you think?

In the meantime, here’s my gift to you to help with you networking, my Top 20 networking tips .

Have fun, stay safe.

Glenys


[1] Thanks to Lesley Morrisey for this strapline