Networking the Easy Way – 1 ‘what’ and 9 ‘who’

With so many business networks to choose form – and each set up as a business to make money for its founder – it’s not always easy for a newbie networker to know where to start.

And here’s a heretical thought: Maybe you don’t need to invest in becoming a member of any of them until you’ve got into the swing of things and worked out what type of networking suits you…

Why is it that when we start doing something new to us we often make it a lot harder than it need be and don’t look on our own doorsteps?

Firstly, what do you do for a living?

  • Do you have the best bakery in the area?
  • Provide the best IT service?
  • Run the best recruitment service?
  • Are you a brilliant web designer?
  • Do you give unparalleled coaching/ training in a specific area?
  • Are you a great Independent Financial Advisor?

Spot the adjectives: best, brilliant, unparalleled, great?…

BIG TIP for the ‘what’:
Drum up some enthusiasm about your business or you’re likely to end up ‘dead in the water’ :-(

It doesn’t actually matter what you do. What does matter is that you’re passionate about it and know you’re darned good at it. I believe this is a classic and crucial test of the integrity of every one of us who networks.

  • If we can’t get excited about how we help people (and we’re not talking zealots here), how do we expect anyone we know to be even slightly enthusiastic?
  • If we’re not genuinely convinced about the value of what we have to offer, how can we, in good conscience, allow them to buy from us, recommend or refer people they know to us?

Some HAVE to make their networking work

Let’s take a quick look at IFAs, who aren’t allowed to be zealots.

If you were looking for advice on money matters, would you feel happy picking a name from a local directory or would you rather talk to someone you know or has been mentioned to you as a good ‘bloke’ by a person you trust?

Independent Financial Advisors can buy in ‘leads’, details of individuals allegedly wanting financial advice, from specialist companies but they’ll only use this service when business is slow. That’s because they know that the leads are often of iffy quality and they are also well aware that friends, referrals and recommendations provide virtually all their business.

Because of all this, and increasing legislation on what they can and can’t do/ say, they also understand the value of building lasting relationships and trust: They can’t ‘go over the top’ in their dealings without running the risk (literally) of ending up in jail.

So all good IFAs build and carefully protect their reputation and personal ‘brand’ as they’re only too aware that it is crucial to their survival and success. And that reputation can be further enhanced if they’re able to introduce people who could help each other, without any obvious or immediate personal gain to the IFA.

Now that’s the ultimate asset value to strive for in networking!
It also keeps us focused firmly on the fact that people do business with people…

The ‘who’

Get ready to start naming names and be prepared for a nice surprise on just how many you can think of first time round with our little nudge list to help!

  • Work/ business: Former employers and co-workers, and people who provide or have provided services to you might like to know what you’re up to nowadays – you might be able to refer business to them or provide a service for them or vice versa
  • Your local community: It’s not by chance that the two buildings you could guarantee to see by the traditional English village green were the church and the pub/inn – one looked after your soul, the other your stomach and circulated news brought by travellers taking a break!
  • Your neighbours
  • Your relatives and any of their friends that you know
  • Old school mates – What do they do for a living? Could you help each other, collaborate or provide contacts or referrals?
  • Co members of golf/ cricket/ tennis/ football etc. clubs
  • Team sports members: If you play a team sport you are gradually bound to get to know more about your teammates and what line of work each of is in.
  • Your local gym – After exercise it’s not unheard of to repair to the bar (even if it’s a coffee and juice bar in the case of a modern sports centre) where it is acceptable to strike up conversation with like-minded souls. Then, if you ‘click’, it can just be a matter of time before the subject of what each of you does for a living crops up. Bingo.
  • Hobbies – any that involve contact with other individuals would be a great way to help you to spread your net over time, whether you are a member of a card club, writers’ group, a musician in a band or orchestra, regularly go to your local art gallery or museum…

Here’s a quick sum to spur you on

Not all of the above are going to apply to everyone but enough will to allow anyone to drum up at least 50 names for starters – how many people do you think each of these 50 know who aren’t already your mutual friends or acquaintances?

If each of these 50 knows 10 people who are currently not in your circle… that’s potentially 500 additional folk who you don’t know yet could know about you and what you do in time!

…And what about the people they know?

It may be a while before have time and you need worry about joining any of those business networks… :-)

PS Take a look here if you want lots and lots on ‘how to’ on networking – even the newest, shyest networker will find something that only stretches their comfort zone a little bit :-) !

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