Happy New Year everyone! I am sure you have made some great New Year's Resolutions and are feeling pretty good about sticking with them on week 1. Well, how about adding a new one into the mix? Networking.
Every day, I speak with business people and those wishing to climb the career ladder, and most are either surprised or rather negative when I mention that networking is essential in building contacts, and ultimately referrals in today's world. So what's all the fuss about? Why am I a champion of networking? Here's my top 10 reasons why you should be networking in 2015.
1. The Hard Sell is Dead
Back in the 80's and 90's it was all about sell, sell, sell, but these days we just don't buy into the slippery sales tactics and over confident attitudes of sales people. You may be thinking that you don't have a product to sell, but think on this – if you don't have a physical product to sell, then YOU are the product. Most people in the noughties buy from personal recommendation. I know if I am buying something or looking for a particular service, I will ask a friend or turn to the mighty Google and browse reviews from complete strangers, then make my decisions from the information gleaned.
2. It's all About Relationships
Relationship building is key to driving your business or career forwards. Here it comes…my old mantra…”People buy people.” People are more likely to buy, hire or use a service if they actually like the person who is offering the deal. Networking is a fantastic way to meet new people, build relationships and ultimately the trust that is needed to form the commitment. Networking is not a quick fix. Don't expect to rock up at a meeting and have all your dreams come true; relationships are built over time – trust is built over time. Take the time to work on building relationships and gaining new introductions. It will be worth it.
3. Referrals are Gold Dust
Once you have attended regular networking meetings and built relationships with other members, you are sure to start receiving referrals. These may come directly from another member who is looking to buy your product or service, or some may come from members speaking highly of you to their friends, family and acquaintances. I know the people I have met at networking meetings are always the first people I personally recommend to others, even if they are not looking! The initial referrals will lead from word of mouth to talk of the town if you are an expert in your field and are providing a great service. Just think how much this can snowball!
4. Members are like your sales team
Say, you attend a networking meeting on a regular basis that has 30 members; that's 30 people who are actively talking about you in conversations with those they come into contact with. Splendid! They are in effect, your sales team. Can you afford to hire an additional 30 people to work for you? Even if you can (??), can you be bothered with the headache the additional staff may cause? Nope? Didn't think so! Most of the people I meet networking, genuinely want to help each other – You sent me a referral, so I want to give you a referral back, therefore, I will be looking for every opportunity possible to get you new business.
5. Save Money
Yes, you do have to pay to attend most networking meetings, but if you compare the cost and return with traditional advertising (and the time it takes), then networking is a winner for me. Just remember, you need to be in it for the long haul and be committed to your meeting and fellow members to reap the benefits.
6. Free advice
I don't mean that members provide free services to each other, what I mean is that during the networking meetings, members often proffer advice or answer small questions you may have. I have learned so much since networking!
7. Free Training
At most networking meetings, one member each week will do a 10 minute presentation about their business. It's not only a great way to find out more about them, but depending on your own agenda, it can be a great way to learn new skills or tips. Remember, you will get to do your own presentation too once you have been a member for a while, so will have a fantastic opportunity in front of a captive audience to promote what you are all about. Scared of presenting? Check out my presentation skills service.
8. Get the Low Down
Networking is a perfect way to keep abreast of what is happening in your local community. It's much more fun than reading a newspaper, and more often than not, your contacts will know information before it hits the press. There have been so many opportunities I have seen members grab by both hands (before their competitors!) because they had some insider knowledge or someone in the know passing on an introduction, referral or nugget of info.
9. Making New Friends
Networking is a great way to meet new friends and not only build your business network, but social calendar too. I cannot tell you how much I have laughed and had a ball since networking 🙂
10. Eat Breakfast With a Knife and Fork
Ok, it's the little things in life that please me! I particularly enjoy breakfast networking meetings as there's usually a fab cooked breakfast and other goodies that allow me to crack on, guilt free – well, I am technically working hard, don't you know? Seriously though, it's great to sit down and eat a proper breakfast with friends old and new, while knowing my business is building nicely with thanks to them.
So, if you are in Worthing, why not check out Worthing Business Circle? You can meet me there too!
For full details or to book a free visit www.worthingbusinesscircle.co.uk