Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Why Networking Could Be A Waste Of Your Time

Networking has been on my mind this month.

I believe that networking is an important part of developing any business. It’s certainly been a major factor in the growth and development of Caittom Publishing since 2010. 

Let's not forget that we're all networking pretty much every time we talk to people, whether that's at an organised event or in the queue at the supermarket. 

Thinking about those organised events, I think the key benefits of business networking are:
  • The opportunity to raise awareness of what your business does and the type of people it can help
  • The opportunity to inspire other business professionals to be your ambassadors and help you find new customers.
  • The opportunity to discover trusted suppliers of services you need to use who will deliver value for money.
  • The opportunity to learn from other successful businesspeople and access their advice and support.
I describe all these benefits as ‘opportunities’ because there are some people who are wasting their time going to networking meetings because:
  • They don’t put across what their business does in a clear and memorable way, or explain who they can help with their products and services.
  • They don’t invest time in building relationships with the people they meet so that they build up trust in each other’s work and can refer customers to each other with confidence.
  • They think only about selling their own products and services and are blind to how other people in the room could help them.
  • They don’t listen and learn from the stories other businesspeople tell about their own experiences and they fail to ask questions.

Networking is not an overnight success. You might strike lucky and meet someone who gives you business at your first meeting, but it’s more likely that people will need to see you a few times before they either offer you work or refer other customers to you.

Of course the time, and money, you invest in networking has to get a ‘return’ for your business. I would recommend going to a few groups as a visitor to find one that you enjoy and that offers you connections with businesses that can help you – and who you can help. Look for one with a timeslot that doesn’t have a negative impact on your working day or your home life.  Ultimately you need to find a group (or more than one if time allows) that you can attend regularly so that you build relationships and showcase what your business offers.

If you are looking for a networking opportunity in the Burton-on-Trent area, I am delighted to tell you that I am helping to launch a new monthly get-together in the town on the third Thursday of the month.

It’s a collaboration between Marston’s Brewery and the Burton Small Business group, of which I am a founder member.

There won’t be any membership fee to pay; it will be a relaxed, pay-as-you go group with no restrictions on which businesses can attend. The only requirement is that you are interested in meeting other businesses and forging productive relationships to stimulate growth and greater success for the local economy.

The launch event takes place on Thursday February 16, from 6pm to 8pm at DE14, the Marston’s Brewery visitor’s centre on Shobnall Road. Come straight from work and you can enjoy a pie from The Abbot’s Catering Company and a drink from Marston’s as part of your £10 admission fee. Tickets must be booked and paid for in advance online at http://bit.ly/MeetUpMarstonsFeb16

Find out more about Burton Small Business at http://burtonsmallbusiness.co.uk