Patience is the key when building business networking contacts
Many businesses, large and small, engage in business networking meetings to make contacts and to boost their growth. Networking takes a number of forms – from major corporate events to a regular coffee and catch-up with other local entrepreneurs. It can be done regularly or sporadically and can become something you invest significantly in. Like any expenditure of time or money, you want to know you are investing wisely and will want to know when the results will come.
My own experience extends really to only two long term memberships of local groups both of which were ‘referral groups’ which limited membership to one member per trade category - with the express purpose of producing referrals for each other in the group.
The restrictive nature of these types of business networking groups mean that it won’t always be easy to find a group with a vacancy in your category - but in my opinion these are the superior types of networks to belong to - they tend to be very organised and focus entirely on the primary purpose - getting new business for members.
There are other types of group that seem to emphasise the more social aspects of getting together with other business owners, but personally, I think that if you are paying to be in a group you need a structure that will deliver some sort of return on your investment. And talking of returns - like all investments there may be quite a long wait until the relationships you are building start to offer a return in terms of real business and hard cash.
I’d suggest that you take the long view - be prepared to give before you take and remember in business as in nature there’s a definite order to doing things - think of PLANT - CULTIVATE - HARVEST in that order and you won’t go far wrong in your networking endeavours.
Is Business Networking Worth Investing In?
Regular networking is always a good idea. Business is all about building relationships, and not just trying to sell to everyone you meet. Networking is not just for you to find new customers, it can also help you to find new suppliers. Business networking meetings are a valuable way of finding and maintaining support for your business. For many sole traders; networking meetings can help open up what can be a very solitary world.
Networking isn’t just about a meeting you attend or the people you speak to online. You are networking every time you come into contact with someone in a professional capacity. It happens even when you don’t realise it - and the results can come when you least expect them.
Good Things Take Time
Do not expect instant results. You must keep at it, a little at a time. First, you must sow the seeds and then cultivate the crop before you can begin to harvest. Remember that first and foremost you are dealing with other people as equals. If you see everyone only as a prospect or a customer, then your networking attempts will be doomed to failure: you must give as much as you take back to succeed.
How to join a business networking group
Most groups will expect you to attend first as a guest or visitor before you will be allowed to join. Don’t be nervous: find out where your local networking group meets and pop in on one of their open sessions to find out how business networking can help you. Get more information about my own networking group’s open days by clicking here