Do you network for your business? Face-to-face, online or a combination of both?
Networking conjures up a range of emotions – some relish to the opportunity whilst others loathe the thought. I personally have been networking since day 1 of my business and can honestly say I’m not sure I’d still be in business without it.
My first networking experience was BNI – the world’s largest referral marketing business in the world. When I started I’m sure I came across as a ‘deer in the headlights’ and was extremely nervous, which felt strange because I couldn’t get my head around why I was always comfortable training groups of people in computers software in my previous job, but not talking in front of people at networking events. I quickly realized I didn’t mind standing up and talking so much (and anyone that knows me knows I like to talk!) but I really was uncomfortable getting up and talking about myself! I’ve been attending my weekly BNI meeting for nearly 2 years now and I have definitely broken through the nerves when it comes to introducing myself and explaining what I do.
In fact at the beginning of this financial year my goal was to attend more local networking events and I have to say, it has been integral to growing my business. Actually, funnily enough I think I’m at the complete other end of the spectrum and am now a bit of a serial networker – I love it.
So, I love face-to-face networking, but I also network online with various local, national and International groups including networks run through social media – particularly Facebook and LinkedIn. Someone asked me just this week, what the value was of one particular online network to which I belong – which highlighted that you need to what different groups offer and whether that fits your networking goal.
As a solopreneur, it can be challenging working alone. Networking and building relationships with people from a wide variety of industries really does make life easier! I now know that if I have a question or an idea I’d like to bounce around, I can call on someone for advice, get a job done or confidently refer clients to – and that is the power of networking!
Please leave a comment as I’d really like to know if you network, your networking activities and whether it’s an essential component of your business!