How to Maximise Your Networking Investment
NEW BEGINNINGS AND LEARNINGS
David has been running his consulting business for nearly four years. He left corporate world when offered a voluntary redundancy package and he grabbed it with open arms. He had had enough of large organisations and decided that working for himself was a much better option.
The first year had kept him very busy. He had not worrried that he had little income. He needed to establish himself. Register a business name, write up a business plan, get advise from an accountant, arrange a home office plus he needed business cards, printing, a website and a LinkedIn Profile. He found his list went on and on and constantly that there were things he found he did not even know!
Each day he faced a new challenge. There were constantly new things he had to consider. There was so much to learn and think about! What were "Blogs", the benefits of social media, how to protect his assets, google analytics and more. He felt like a duck out of water and quite isolated.
NETWORKING TO ACCESS KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE
In order to find solutions to many of his challenges, his friends, Matthew and Anne, suggested he start networking. Matthew had learnt how valuable a good, strong network was and Anne had found the perspectives and experience of others so valuable in building her business. They told David that is was a good way to gain knowledge, prospect for business, and find suppliers and referrers to help him manage things in his business and achieve his goals by accessing knowledge and experience of others.
David attended lots of events over the next year, 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 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 David needed from his networking events, whether a suppler, client, referrer or likeminded business friend, or knowledge , opportunities or collaboration helped to 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 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, but he made a decison that weekly breakfast meetings were too time consuming and rigid for his schedule. He wanted to find events that combined his needs for knowledge, connection and opportunities in one event.
- David knew that he needed to be able to talk about his business and his business journey with others, be able to demonstrate his expertise, knowing that "real" conversations with authentic people created know, like and trust and ultimately business opportunities.
David heard about Your Time Matters. Not only did they offer Business Strategy sessions, they also ran professional and effective events.
By attending YTM in particular, David boosted his confidence in talking about his business and regularly had deeper conversations with other professionals prompted by the unique formats.
Now, networking plays an important part in David's business. As David suggests "Think carefully about your reasons for attending events and how you maximise your networking investment" .