Build a Sustainable Network- the foundation of business.
Max has been running his consulting business for almost five years. He took a redundancy package from his corporate job where he had been employed for fifteen years, deciding that he would be happier working for himself.
The first year had kept him busy. There was a lot to set up and he was not too worried that his income was slow. He registered a business name, wrote up a business plan, talked to an accountant and set up an office at home in the spare room. He had business cards designed and a website developed by a friend. He had a go at writing his LinkedIn Profile. Each day he faced new challenges and often he felt quite isolated. He had always had others to bounce ideas around and share a joke or problem.
Benefits of Networking
His brother, Alastair, suggested he should start tattending some networking events. Alastair had learnt how valuable a good, strong network could be. He explained to Max that meeting up with likeminded others had many benefits and had boosted his confidence as he learnt to articulate the value he provided to his clients. He felt more comfortable when he realised that many others experienced the same frustrations .
Alastair told Max that not only was it a good way to make connections and prospect for business, but that he would be able to find the suppliers and referrers he needed as his business grew. He would be able to access knowledge and experience from others who had walked in his shoes.
Max attended lots of events over the next year or so, but found that many events were a waste of his time and money. People constantly were "selling to him". He wasn't attending the events to be sold too...he wanted to build relationships as a foundation for his business. There had to be a better way! As his own boss, he decided he needed a networking strategy so he set himself KPI's (Key Performance Indicators) for the next 90 days to focus on creating connections he needed.
He planned which events he attended based on who he wanted to meet, set himself a clear intention for why he was attending each event, recorded who he connected with and made sure he followed up and tracked the outcomes.
What did he gain from this approach?
Clarifying what Max needed from his networking events, whether to find a supplier, client, referrer or likeminded business friend, or to access knowledge, opportunities or collaboration helped influence the events he chose.
Allocating his time to no more than 4 events a month, allowed him to manage his family, personal and professional life better. He attended events that suited his family commitments, meet his goals and events that were enjoyable. If networking was part of his life, he might as well join a community of like-minded business professionals who meet regularly so he could form ongoing relationships; he also made a decision that weekly breakfast meetings were too time consuming and rigid for his schedule. He wanted to combine his needs for knowledge, connection and opportunities in one or other chosen events.
Max knew that he needed to be able to talk about his business and his business journey with others to be able to demonstrate his expertise, knowing that "real" conversations with authentic people created “know, like and trust” and ultimately business opportunities.
Yes, networking plays an important part in building any business. Max’s advice to you is to "Think carefully about your reasons for attending events and how you maximise your networking investment"
How do you choose the events you attend and what are you seeking? Please let us know how we can help you. Would like to receive Event Alerts from us HERE to see what is on offer each month?