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.
As I write this it is four months since England when into lockdown. On that day two things happened to me:
On paper, my business stopped. ebn is a business networking company, we meet face-to-face, over breakfast. For a few weeks before lockdown things had been decidedly different: members not sure what would happen with their business, what they needed to do, would they survive and how could they protect and support their staff. Then on 23rd there was some clarity, at least for me. On a business level I couldn’t continue my existing business model. It justwasn’t an option, that was very clear.
I was told, very emphatically, that I was classed as vulnerable and must not go out of the house for any reason other than my regular four–weekly hospital appointments.
Maybe if one of these issues had happened in isolation I might have coped better, as it was I felt like the two–by–four had been applied. (Not that I know what it actually feels like to be hit with a two–by–four, but I have an active imagination!)
So, what happened? My network immediately kicked in; my fabulous team of Group Directors, all business owners themselves, took their groups online and this gave me some space to get to grips with all aspects of ‘being vulnerable’, from the psychological impact of that, to the practical.
My beloved, who is high risk, decided, to keep me as safe as he could by also not going out. We, therefore, had to work out how could we get things like food, medicines, and other frivolities. The next-door neighbour became our short-term lifeline and then three people from my business network volunteered to shop for me. (Any of you who are thinking: “what about home deliveries?” are delusional. I never managed to get the golden ticket, or as some people called it, a delivery slot.)
Since 23rd of March four things have happened:
ebn has grown as people came to virtual meetings as visitors, got help, advice, and support from my wonderful members. Business people have come together and supported each other. It has not just been about how they are coping but how their businesses are doing.
I have realised that, if nothing is normal then, for my business everything is possible. So, I am reviewing my business model. This includes how and where we open groups and when and how we develop additional products, which would be available to members and non-members
I have realised that ‘vulnerable’ is a label that others apply to me
My long-held belief has been proven; networking works.
Since networking is about building relationships, please accept my gift of Top 20 networking tips by following this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to download your copy.