We often talk about networking as though everyone in the whole world knows what we’re talking about. It might be true that many do, but for those who are new to self-employment, or who have found themselves for the first time in a role that demands they start networking, it can be a world they’re not remotely used to.
If you have no prior knowledge or experience of something, it’s easy to misunderstand or become confused about what it is that’s going on.
With that in mind, let’s clear up a few of the common things people seem to be unsure of.
#1 – What IS networking?
Forget cables and anything to do with IT, business networking is (in a nutshell) the process of linking together individuals who, through the development of trust and genuine relationships, become walking advertisements for each other.
It is simply the provision of a network of other people who know what you do, understand what you do, and are able to recommend you to their network. Your contacts are not just the people in the room with whom you are physically networking, but their contacts outside of the room, too.
#2 – So, I just need to hand out my business cards then?
No. Remember, the key to effective business networking is generating genuine relationships.
Just going to say that again – GENUINE.
The best way to do that is over time, and by being authentic in all your interactions with your fellow members (and visitors/guests). Take the time to get to know other people, what they do, how they can help you, what you can do for them, what their needs are; forge meaningful relationships with them and build a sense of trust within the networking group.
#3 – OK, so it’s all a bit of a clique is it?
Let’s be honest – it can be. There are some groups out there (not that we know of any personally, though) that aren’t always great at welcoming “newbies”. However, the reality of the matter is new members (or just visitors and guests) are the lifeblood of any effective networking group.
A group that relies solely on its current members is going to have a limited shelf life, and arguably limited reach and effectiveness.
It can feel difficult to “break in” to a new group at first, but that’s where effort comes in. Take the time to study the membership lists, pick out key people you want to speak to and request 1-to-1’s with fellow members. This is undoubtedly the best way to find out more about the people who are also members of your group, and to identify mutual interests.
The only way to find out what business networking is really about is to try it out for yourself. Here at Bury Business Group we offer individuals the opportunity to come along for two FREE visits (providing there is no clash of industry with a current member). If you want to find out more about visiting us, please just get in touch and we will be happy to provide you with more information. CLICK HERE