The other day I was talking to someone about Bury Business Group, and they said “Oh, but networking’s just a scam, isn’t it?”.
I admit, the question threw me a little bit, and anyone who knows me will attest to the fact I’m rarely lost for words.
Of course, I can only speak from experience, but in the years I’ve been networking I’ve never come across a scam. Yes, I’ve been to groups that weren’t right for me – too expensive, not the right members in the room, a vibe I just didn’t gel with … but even those couldn’t be described as “scams”. They just weren’t the right fit.
But it got me thinking – clearly there are people out there that genuinely have concerns about networking, and who might be avoiding it like the plague, because they have misconceptions. So, let me tell you a bit about why I think networking, in general is vital, and why BBG is a great place to start.
I am not exactly known for being a shy, retiring, wall flower. I’m an Essex girl with a very big mouth and a hefty set of opinions I’m not afraid to use. However, when I first started networking I was beyond terrified.
The thought of walking in to a room of people I didn’t know, and having to actually talk to them, no. Not my kind of thing. Then, to stand up in front of them and present for 60 seconds! I would be a nervous wreck waiting for my turn to come, and then I would shake and stumble over my words.
Fast forward two years and I really couldn’t give a monkey’s anymore. I’m confident in the fact I know what I’m talking about, I can get my point across, and I can answer any question thrown at me. It has made a huge difference to my own confidence, and it’s something that would never have happened without networking.
Successful networking takes a whole host of skills, not all of which you will be endowed with when you first enter the room. Making small talk, listening, extracting information, negotiating, creating a good impression, problem solving, team working, organisation, preparation, presentation … the list is pretty endless to be honest.
Some of these you will learn by either sinking or swimming, others you will pick up along the way thanks to your fellow members. Personal development is a huge part of networking, whether that’s done formally by training (which some groups offer), or in a more holistic way.
Opportunities and shared knowledge
Whilst increasing confidence, and other skill enhancements are wonderful, let’s not kid ourselves here. The whole point of networking is to increase market your business, increase brand awareness and get more referrals. While it can be fun, we’re not there just for the coffee and giggles.
Many people look at a room and think “I can’t sell to anyone in here”, and that’s exceptionally short sighted. No, maybe you can’t, not today. But don’t just think about who’s in the room, think about who the people in the room know. If a room full of 20 people each know a further 20 people, you’ve got the potential to tap in to 400 individuals. That is if you take the time to build meaningful relationships.
Equally, it’s important to remember that networking is not just about selling. I can’t speak for other groups, but I know at BBG many of our members work together, collaborating on delivering projects, relying on others for specific knowledge and assistance. People are always asking for a bit of advice over a coffee, and our members are happy to provide it.
There is so much you can achieve with networking, if you put the time in to it.
Bury Business Group is one of the oldest, and largest weekly networking groups in the Bury area. We are a non-profit organisation, which means your membership fees are kept low to cover costs, and funds are ploughed back in to the group.
Visitors are welcome to come twice, free of charge, where they can meet our members, network in a relaxed environment and have a great breakfast at The Red Hall Hotel.
If you would like to find out more, or book to visit us, please get in touch via our contact us button. Alternatively, give me (Lu) a call on 0161 883 2024.