How to Use Networking to Work "ON" Your Business
At the start of the New Year it is important to take a moment to consider how you are using your precious time. Did you work so hard last year” in” your business that you were overlooking the need to work “on” your business?
We often hear from business owners that there projects have come to an end or their client has moved on, but that they have no bothered to work on their future pipeline to generate leads and completely overlook professional development as just another thing they should be doing.
For the sake of your business and in fact for you own well-being you do need to make connecting with others a priority. Networking offers an ideal solution to seeking out new connections that can lead to new opportunities, learn about latest trends and approaches and provide practice for you in talk to others to gain feedback on your business proposition and keep your model relevant.
It is important to understand that there are at a minimum four different types of relationships we build through networking: operational, personal, referral and strategic. All of these play a part in helping you achieve your goals, however, depending on your stage of life or role, they may not all apply to you. I mention them, though because your friends and family also operate in these networks and it important to understand that we inevitably operate in more than one network.
· Operational networks -help manage teams and relationships within a business. It is important to recognise that everyone within an organisation has experience and knowledge to share and has a voice. Focussing on managing and leveraging the silos or department in an organisation can build better team engagement and improve the customer experience.
· Personal networks- built often through friends, family, common interest groups in the community, help you to find knowledge, experience and connections you need . They often are the networks you rely on in your leisure time and enjoy the engagement in the simple pleasures of life or connect you through your children , social dinners with friends, walks on the beach, attending sporting events, cycling, gym , prompted by lifestyle activities .
· Referral networks- focussed on a closed loop of professionals from non-competing industries who seek out transactions and gain leads. Of course we all benefit from referral networks, both as suppliers, clients, referrers and friends. However, I believe if you only focus on referral networking, you are missing out on the rich resources available to us to transform and enrich our lives through deeper relationships.
· Strategic networks- focus on your business direction and the stakeholders you need to pursue. Many people under-utilise strategic networking. A strategic network is based on relationships that help to plan for the future of your career and business. There is opportunity to sell ideas and gain the information and resources necessary to grow. It requires both time and attention outside routine, operational demands and investment to access foresight on important trends in industry and help build your reputation and profile.
If your network is too homogenous, it can hinder your growth as it limits the breadth and diversity you stand to gain from connecting with others. You can miss out on opportunities to learn new things and really stretch your view of the world. It is important to be constantly challenged and exposed to the diverse experiences of others.
Events that encourage men and women to connect provide diverse conversations, and regularly at YTM, valuable insights offering professional and personal development and developing interpersonal skills and understanding. The challenges of running a business and maintaining a family at the same time are conversations we all can relate too and can help you to realise that you are not alone when you are feeling overwhelmed by all there is running a small business .
If you think that this year, you are ready to take a new approach to your networking, or a looking for a community that will help to motivate, energise and inspire you , check out the coming events here (link to www.yourtimematters.com.au/ytm-events)