FREE LUNCH #4 | The Art of Networking

Networking Image

Networking is important. Here’s why and how to do it to help your business or brand become more successful. Firstly though, why network at all?

  1. Grows your clients, customers, consumers or congregation. We become more successful by selling or sharing what we do with more people. Networking gives you a bigger pond from which to fish.
  2. Grows your suppliers, supporters or sponsors. We maintain success by making the best use of our resources. Others have access or finances that will make that task easier.
  3. Grows your expertise. No matter how small your ambition is, there’s likely to be a lack of experience or knowledge in getting to it. Otherwise you would be doing it already. In the meantime you can ‘borrow’ other people’s experience.

So how do I network? Networking isn’t a beauty pageant. You’re not simply showing off how pretty your company or idea is. Neither is it about collecting as many business cards as you can. It’s about the contacts on those cards and how they can help you grow.  Here’s what to do.

Have A Hit List.

Do some research on the speakers, sponsors or others on the guest list who would like to connect with at a networking event. Contact them in advance via social media (if you can’t get to them directly), letting them know you’re going to be there and would like a QUICK chat about something. Make it something that will highlight your idea or business, or new insight on their industry etc. You’ll be more prepared, feel less like a gooseberry and it will make the event much more worthwhile.

Know What You Need.

Make sure your brand, idea and ethos are in unison (FREE LUNCH #1). You need to be clear about what your success depends on because you have a good business plan. If it’s finance, how much? If it’s access or experts, who exactly do you need (FREE LUNCH #2)?

Know Who You Are.

Your Elevator Pitch will help you through the nervous first few seconds of introductions. There’s nothing worse than ‘Hi I’m Brian… I’m Trevor’ *awkward silence* to kill the rapport you are trying to build (FREE LUNCH #3).

Strike first and confidently, then ask ‘what do you do?’ Are they someone who can help your business? Yes, then well done. You’re on your way to greater success. Maybe you’re not sure yet though. Ask them why they came to this event. Why are they networking?

Remember the principal is ‘puff puff pass’. Feel free to share – contacts and information. This person may not be able to help you but could be perfect for someone else. Introducing them to each other will gain you extra brownie points.

Successful networking is about being strategic with your time and engaging contacts with your ideas. For more FREE LUNCH ideas insights, follow @ideasgenius or browse the blog and be inspired.

FREE LUNCH #2 | More Going Out Than Coming In

We are not talking about profit here, but there is probably a problem in your business model if you are laying out much more than you have identified as income.

Money Down The Drain

 Maybe it’s time to look at your business closely:

  • What are you paying for?
  • Is it set-up costs?
  • Investments?

Even when the scale of difference between income and expenditure is not as high as ten-fold, it is possible that your finances are not as efficient as they could be.

A good business plan will help you sort this out.  We can’t stress how vital a business plan is to the backbone of any enterprise.  Setting up as a business without a business plan is a lot like going ice skating without ice skates!

Your outgoings in this phase of your business might be legitimate costs.  However, they could also be compensating for market research which would have identified something you are now paying for.  Something which could have been avoided if it had been done better planning before promoting your services and products.

At the point where you recognise that there’s much more going out than you have commitment for (written contracts, agreements, deposits, etc.) it is a good idea to stop and take stock of what you actually have.  Sometimes asking someone who know little about your business can help you be more objective.  Are you running an expensive hobby instead of sustainable business?

Maybe your current business organisation isn’t best for your business?  Perhaps it’s time to form a partnership with someone who is more expert or has better access to the areas you’re spending most on?

Spending money to gain business isn’t always fatal; haemorrhaging money is.  If you are in this position continue with FREE LUNCH insights this week and follow @ideasgenius on Twitter.