There’s a lot of talk at the moment (especially in our local business community) about ‘business networking’. Like it or love it, you shouldn’t under estimate the role it can play within your small business.
A lot of clients automatically think that ‘networking’ is about joining one of the myriad of breakfast meetings or lunches that congregate around our local hotels. They’re great if you like that sort of thing, and if you find they work for your business then keep on attending.
However, a lot of people experience difficulty mixing in these kinds of environments. Many find it hard to introduce themselves – it can be quite daunting meeting someone for the first time. What do you say to someone? How do you introduce yourself? What if they don’t like you? If such things go through your mind, then how do you sell your services? What do you do?
Small business networking doesn’t need to be geared around business networking groups. There are a variety of ways small businesses can network but, there are two in particular which many small businesses either neglect or consider insignificant:
1. Family, Friends and Neighbours
2. Interest Groups
Family, Friends and Neighbours
Many small businesses tend to forget the power of their closest networks – family, friends and neighbours. It’s obvious your immediate family will know that you have your own business. But, how many times have you asked a member of your family if any of their friends could use your services or products? Never assume that because a friend or family member is familiar with your business that all their friends will also know about you. Likewise with your neighbours – If you are a tradesman, the chances are your neighbours will have a good idea as to your occupation – they’ll have seen your van on your driveway! There’s also a good chance that your neighbours don’t have a clue as to what you do for a living. So mention it in conversation next time you meet. Ask them if they need your services, or know someone who does. And above all else, never be afraid to ASK! If you don’t ask, you don’t get!
A client of mine adores Wigan Athletic, so much so that he takes he takes a table at the DW for every home game and fraternises with the local business community who share his passion. This is networking; my client loves it and it works really well for him. The key to its success is the fact there is common interest. It’s a lot easier to talk to people who share the same interests, and I think it’s one of the reasons why formal structured business networking organisations and events do not work for a lot of small businesses.
There are lots of other forms of business networking. I’ve only mentioned two which are obvious but often neglected. Find the type of networking you are comfortable with and make sure you use it.
What do you think about networking? Does it work for you? Please leave a comment in the box below!
To receive our monthly newsletter click here to join our mailing list.
Haywards provides helps for small businesses on a wide range of subjects – contact us for more details.