A very emotive word
For many there will be very specific reactions – positive and negative
For me – I have experienced both
But its power cannot be denied. Here is a list of my feelings of why networking is fun (yes, you read it correctly, I did say FUN)
- (cliche alert) Life is what you make it – so is networking – if you make it dull it is, if you make it fun, it is
- Taking time to find 2 or 3 groups that suit your business and personality is important. Don’t just go to one and then make a judgement – they are all very different
- When you have found the best groups for you, you will naturally receive support and encouragement from other members, this will grow your confidence quickly
- They are a great way to canvass opinion and carry out market research, ask a question you will get 10 answers immediately
- Informal mentoring – we never stop learning and developing
- Make new friends
- Get to have new experiences and try different things – test driving BMWs is the wackiest I have come across to date
- Continued professional development – sharing information, discussions and informal training are invaluable when working alone
- It develops your business model
- Enter new markets – I accompanied two friends of mine for moral support at a recent (quite daunting) event. Within 30 seconds they were talking to a solicitor, a market not traditionally targetted by their sector and instantly realised that there was another market in front of them that they had not even recognised
- Maintains momentum in winning business
- Informal associate models make promotion more cost effective and mutually beneficial
My experiences have been extremely positive, my first brush with networking a couple of years ago did put me off and meant that my initial business idea did not get off the ground. This time around I persevered and I am happy and my business is growing steadily.
Since I originally wrote this article, the networking landscape has changed considerably, a lot more of it is taking place online. This is largely due to time and cost issues, but I think that networking face to face whether formally or informally is crucial, I still endeavour to attend events in person.
Don’t just consider networking to be the formal business meetings that are set up purely to make contacts. Going to industry specific events or even informal gatherings are just as important.
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