…… and if you do so consistently, then networking will become very rewarding!
When your goal is to run a successful business, the best advice you will ever get is that you go out networking. It is, or should be, a key part of any marketing strategy. The simple fact is this: if you don’t promote your business, nobody else will.
But not everyone is comfortable mingling among people they have never met, and even less so, standing before an audience, and talking about what they do. Some people would rather opt for having a tooth out than speaking in public.
But with support and confidence, it is amazing to see the transformation of a first-time networker into an accomplished one. At Business for Breakfast (BforB) meetings, we totally understand the uncertainty of a first-time guest new to the networking scene, and find it totally rewarding when people sign up to one of our groups, and we see them grow in confidence week by week.
Sure, there are those who prefer the comfort of social media marketing to attending networking events, but in recent research carried out by Virgin, 85% or respondents said they prefer face-to-face inter-actions as it builds stronger, more meaningful business relationships. Hence the importance of going out to network!
So how do you make the most of your networking, and how do you ensure that it works for you?
First of all, we recommend that you find a networking group that works for you. At BforB we take pride in not only welcoming new networkers, but offering them support, encouragement, and friendship. Some take to it like the proverbial duck to water, others find it initially intimidating.
But if you attend regularly, then trust us, you will actually start to enjoy it! Networking is about getting to know people, making connections, building relationships, educating people about your business, letting them know who you may be looking to make contact with, and ultimately giving your fellow networkers the confidence to recommend you to the people they meet day in, day out.
As one of our BforB franchisees said only recently: “Supporting people new to networking is so rewarding, and it is worth remembering how much knowledge is around the room at one of our meetings, and from that knowledge there is a lot of great advice to be given out.”
Indeed, one member, who set up on his own about 18 months ago as a mortgage adviser, has quadrupled his business in a year after joining BforB, and now has a great working relationship with the estate agent and financial adviser in the group; between the three of them, they are having a ball!
Relationships like those develop from the meetings, and also by arranging 1-2-1 meet-ups outside of the fortnightly BforB meetings. We encourage those 1-2-1s, because you get to know fellow networkers in a more personal setting, develop friendships, and most importantly you find out much more about each other’s businesses to the point that you can then refer with great confidence.
At BforB, our meetings are structured, but with an informal atmosphere around the room; and in such an environment, business is being passed around the room, and referrals being given and received. That’s when networking becomes both rewarding and fulfilling, and it is achieved over a period of time, rather than simply by attending a first meeting.
To summarise: consistency is the key to successful networking; at BforB we meet every other week, because so many business people told us the weekly commitment of some organisations was too much to keep up with, and that fortnightly far better fits in with their busy schedule.
Attendance breeds familiarity, which in turn develops confidence, and ultimately leads to referrals. And if you enjoy your networking, and make friends and business contacts while doing so, then happy days! We may be biased, but we believe the BforB format is the perfect way to achieve this.
Remember: you might offer an awesome service, you may have far more to offer than your competitors. But if you don’t shout about your business, then nobody will know about you!