Ahhh networking, a wonderful opportunity to mix with other people who can support your business, help you with their advice/anecdotes and your time to interact with other people. OR that icky space where Daisy (I don’t know a Daisy) is selling the next Networking Marketing opportunity and Bill (I don’t know a Bill) is telling you all everything about his business success, his car, his bank balance but nothing about himself.
What camp are you in? I’m going to let you into a secret- who’s in the room, doesn’t matter, you are in control of your networking experience. BUT as we return to ‘real life’ what will networking look like?
As an extreme extrovert, I can’t wait to get back into a real room, with real people. I won’t have to faff with the webcam. Tidy up the background and strain my ears so hard that I don’t know who’s saying what. I won’t have to worry about unmuting, losing connection and disappearing from the session altogether. BUT, that said, I understand the apprehension around this and thought I would address 3 concerns I’ve seen with my clients, contacts, and peers… here goes…
“My business has moved more nationally/internationally thanks to COVID”.
This is an amazing problem to have, right? One that has happened to me and one I am thankful for. BUT I will remind you that networking is about connecting, it isn’t about getting new business. If you look at it as connection opportunities everything else will flow. So instead of thinking you need local clients, think about other things you need, local allies, collaboration opportunities, speaking opportunities, business friendships and support. Through networking, I have been to some great events with local businesses I would’ve never heard of without meeting these wonderful people. Logistically, if you’re wanting to speak at live events or maybe collaborate on projects- local businesses can be great. And when you think about it as connecting with people your making bonds, they last longer and they spread- you don’t know who they know.
“I don’t have the time for the travel etc- much more productive online”.
OK, this has also passed my mind. I have done 3or4 networking events a week sometimes during lockdown, which I couldn’t get to in ‘real life’ but that’s not a bad thing. That was feeding my need for ‘connection’ whilst also serving as a great ‘research’ bed for my networking strategy 2021. I recommend you work on a strategy as it helps you focus on the right networking sessions for you and makes sure it is something you do all year round, not just when business is struggling. I can’t tell you how it winds me up when people say, “Oh I have enough clients now I’ll go networking when I need some more”. Good luck with that love.
As the CEO of your business, you need to make time to connect, build relationships, build the know-like-trust. Make that space in your business to make connecting and relationship building a priority. In my strategy, I look at,
- What I want to get from networking
- Where/which groups best suit those needs
- How often they meet and can I commit.
- Who I want to connect with in those groups (business types, personality types, or specific people)
- My follow-up/next steps plan.
Drop me an email if you want more details on this (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I’ve never networked in real life and I can’t imagine what I will do.
Just f*in go for it. Is step one, and the only real step that will make a difference and mean you take action. If you have networked virtually online, find out where they are in real life- start there. If you haven’t then you do a bit of research (most networking groups offer a free first 1or2 sessions). If you’ve never done any then I recommend these tips,
- Connect with other business friends/people you like- where do they go and tag along.
- Contact the organizer and let them know you are going, you’re new and apprehensive.
- Find out the agenda, so you can prepare.
- Have a great intro- but focus on YOU, it’s easier to talk about you and then when you’re networking in the smaller groups you can talk about the business.
- Read my older blog on networking for newbies here for 5 top tips.
Making space for networking is key, the opportunities are endless, the benefits are great, and you never know where it will lead. If you’re struggling to get CEO activities done in your business book a call now. The team is growing, and we sweat the small stuff so you can focus on the big dreams.
If you’re local, hope to see you at an event, if you’re not, hope to hear about your wins. Enjoy it and remember- even the bad experiences, the annoying people and the downright weird and wonderful are great stories (and content opportunities )