Networking for your small business

The word Networking used to fill me with dread! Everybody was telling me I needed to do it for my business. It’s not who you are, it’s who you know, apparently.

I felt nervous about going alone and not knowing anyone and I felt I would struggle as I am not naturally a sales person. I was worried I would be stood in a corner on my own with no-one to talk to.

I eventually decided I needed to feel the fear and do it anyway. I also managed to convince Emma to attend a few meetings with me. Safety in numbers made me feel a bit more confident.

We chose a couple of meetings to go to and off we went. I can honestly say it was one of the most excruciating experiences and one that I certainly didn’t enjoy. I felt that people were selling to me rather than thinking about ways that we could support each other.

Feeling very deflated, we then came across a really useful article about networking.  It helped us to make a few decisions…

  1. We could see the benefits of networking but we needed to be more organised and prepared when people asked us about our business.
  2. We needed to find the right networking event for us. One where we felt supported, comfortable and confident.
  3. When we’d found the right networking event, we needed to figure out who the givers and takers were in the room. We know that sounds awful but unfortunately there are lots of people out there who expect to get everything for free. Help those who you trust and you believe to be genuine.
  4. We also wanted to make sure that we were able to take a genuine interest in other people’s businesses and think about ways that we could support them.

One of the good things to come out of our previous networking experiences was a connection that we’d made, a lovely lady called Karen Heap.

Karen has been a great source of knowledge and encouragement and over the last couple of years and we’ve helped each other in many ways.

We were therefore thrilled when Karen told us she was launching her own networking events and even more thrilled when she asked Kate to be a guest speaker this month.

Socially Shared is a monthly business support network and member’s club for women. The network was founded by Karen Heap of Orchard Business Development and is now run as a joint venture with Rebecca Jones of Glory Design.  Karen and Rebecca make a great team and collectively have more than 25 years of experience working with businesses, both in the graphic design and business support industries.

Socially Shared was created after years of attending other networking and training events in and around the Midlands.  Each of these had its own clear aim and objectives, but there appeared to be a gap in the market for combining networking with real hands-on learning that would add immediate value to a business.

Kate has been chatting to the women at Socially Shared Kenilworth & Leamington about her Top Tips for Twitter. The group is just what we were looking for and you can find out more information about the network HERE

If you’re heading off to a networking event, here are our 3 top networking tips …

Networking Tips

  1. Find the right networking event for you and your business. If a group doesn’t feel right, go with your gut instinct and try something else.
  2. Be prepared – have you 30 second pitch ready, that way when people ask you what you do, you can tell them quickly and effectively.
  3. Do not sell – networking is NOT about selling but about building new relationships based on trust. It is important to be yourself and be genuine at all times. You should think of networking as a long term strategy for building profitable relationships, rather than a quick win.

Happy Networking.

Emma & Kate xx