Recently I was talking to a business contact who I have known for a few years, but not really well. I knew that I liked him and, if you had asked me why, I would have said things like “Well, he is always pleasant and he has a great sense of humour—he makes me laugh”. Over the last few months, for various reasons, I have met up with him more than I had and each time I have come away feeling upbeat. In networking that is not always the case!
A couple of weeks ago we arranged a 1-2-1 and before we started talking business, we had the “How are you doing?” conversation. Often this can be quite superficial. Business people put on their business faces and they talk about the good things that are happening. Occasionally, and usually after a long-term relationship with someone, with some people the business face can be ignored and they talk about real problems that they are dealing with and real, current challenges they are facing.
This is one of the benefits of networking that rarely gets talked about, the business relationships that become so secure and the people so confident in each other that they know that they will not be judged, they will be supported, and they can be confident that the issues shared will not make it on to the 10 o’clock news. In business it can seem at times as if you are alone, and are not sure where you can go for support, or if you should just keep it all to yourself.
When I met this contact, who I did not know well, I was sort of expecting a low-key and slightly superficial kind of ‘business-focussed’ chat. But this was not what happened. When I asked how he was he said, “I am dealing with some real problems, and I don’t know where to turn”. Over the next hour he poured out all the issues, side issues, what he’s done, what he’s thought of doing, what had helped and what had not. Then we worked together to work out some possible solutions, we identified some people who might be able to offer some practical help and we arranged a date when we would meet and catch up again.
This time it was him with the challenges the next time it could be me who needs someone to help. If you need help and you think it might help to talk, then get in touch. If you would like some help with your networking here’s my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips. Just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.
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.
Well, aren’t we living in interesting times? People keep talking about the new normal: have we reached it, is this just a different normal, will our old normal return? It’s disquieting and perhaps even a little exciting. Nothing is as it was and many of us are having to rethink our businesses.
My business is networking, this was always a massive part of my marketing plan whatever business I have owned and now it is the thing I do.
I have always had a networking strategy, part of the larger marketing strategy: a set of rules, things to do, how to do things and when. Networking has always involved face-to-face meetings, often including a coffee and a sticky bun, and now this method is on hold. If you want to see that strategy go to: https://www.ebn.uk.com/blog/?p=26
Rather than look at what I used to do I sat down and looked at the new rules, how do we adapt to this different world of networking?
These are my takes on the original rules – and what today’s version is:
Wear a name badge so people don’t have to try and remember these details rather than concentrating on what you are saying. Now: Put your name on the screen, and your business name, if space is available (TIP: if you have a pop up banner, place it behind you.)
Turn up on time, That hasn’t changed…and you can’t blame traffic!
Arrange 1-2-1s, The only difference is you each provide your own drink and sticky bun.
Show respect to the meeting…don’t mess around! No dogs on desks, don’t keep changing your background, don’t take telephone calls (and if you have to, then mute yourself) This is still a business meeting.
Dress appropriately…even if it’s only from the waist up.
Agree to use of your business details. Instead of exchanging business cards, connect on Linkedin (although you should do that anyway).
Allow others to talk. If you can’t resist, mute yourself.
One thing that will never change is the need to work together to grow all our businesses. More information about mine is at: ebn.uk.com and it include networking tips to sign up for Let me know if I can help you or your business in any way.