The Power of Networking – and why it’s not always about passing leads
Earlier today I submitted a request for help in sourcing a suitable placement for my son to undertake work experience locally.
Being specific about the industry (technology) that my son is interested in, I duly drafted an email and sent it to the proprietor of CAP Business Clubs, Paul James just before 11am today.
Within a matter of minutes, my request had been relayed to the three Groups within CAP – the Motivated Monday guys, the Terrific Tuesday group and mine, the Thriving Thursday bunch. I was impressed and grateful in equal measure.
Fast forward just a couple of hours, and I have received three independent offers from local IT related businesses, and further contact from two more Members offering to help – all members of CAP Business Club for which I remain very grateful. After considering the logistics of getting my son to and from the placement of choice for a week, and the nature of work undertaken, we accepted Eric Witheridge and his team’s offer of a place with Module IT for the week.
Without being a member of CAP Business Club and regularly networking as I do, who can say if this would have been possible? I suspect it would have been a case of making a number of cold calls or issuing numerous letters in the hope that an offer is made.
In my view, this experience demonstrates the strength of the relationships that can be developed through pro-active networking, and not simply expecting business from each connection.
February 13th 2015.
Seven advantages to networking
Having the benefit of running business clubs for just over two years I have gained a deeper understanding of why we network with others. Here's my verdict on the top seven reasons we believe give us an edge over our competitors.
I remember attending my first network meeting a few years ago, and part of the mission statement was “givers gain” the principle of course is fairly obvious but I have still seen a few members over the years at various clubs expect leads and contacts right from the start.......wrong! Well most of the time anyway.
The best networkers, and by the best I mean the ones who receive the most leads, help and advice tend to be the ones who give the most leads, help and advice. Networking is the exactly the same as everything else in life ....you get back what you put in.
Basically if you’re thinking of joining a networking group to gain gain gain.....you just might be better off keeping your marketing bucks for another source. But if you are ready and willing to help others and give give give....and remember sometimes it takes a while to kick in, but the results can be staggering.
Great news! Becca Cobham (Creative Bee) and I are starting a new business partnership together and it's called "WyeDean Deli confidential". More about that later and it is not the blatant advertising opportunity you may have imagined - honestly.
In fact actually this is more of a tribute to Paul James' CAP Business Clubs and the power of networking. Becca Cobham and I are both members of the Tuesday evening group where Paul is passionate about getting small business owners together to network, discuss issues and interact to the benefit of all. Paul knows this model well and is a great chairman and exponent of the art.
It was actually at our first one to one meeting (Becca and I) that we realised immediately that we shared a passion for food and drink and in particular the quality artisan food and drink producers of the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley. I, as a photographer, had been working on a social documentary project on food and drink producers of the area for a year or so and Becca had a lingering and long held urge to write and research the whole issue of quality local produce. Our individual skill sets seemed to be ideal for collaboration on the project and so the idea, if not the final business name was born. A trendy blog and quarterly glossy magazine to celebrate and shout (very loudly) about the best in quality food and drink (at all prices ranges) the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley has to offer.
And so first naturally we looked inward on our idea, examining all the issues and possibilities and whether we thought there was a viable business. We couldn't for the life of us come up with a negative! A perhaps predictable outcome when you are passionate about something. Lot's of problems for sure but then there are always 10 good reasons not to do something if you are not a positive thinker - the bottom line between the two of us - we liked the idea but we needed an additional view - an objective friend as it is sometimes called.
Next we threw our energies into the planning and development of the project into a business model and business plan followed by the first, furtive, airing of the project with some of our respective confidants in the local food sector. No negatives there either - progress! Then, in business, you get those key moments when you stop seeking views and advice and actually have to pitch the project for real. In our case it was to Amanda and Rachel from the Food Showcase (no pressure then) with whom we are now gladly collaborating. And it's a funny feeling when you as partners having internalised your ideas then listen to someone else actually, out loud, say what a great idea you have had.
All of this, and whatever success is to follow, can be traced back to CAP Business Club and the networking groups. Who know's if the two of us would have met anyway and discovered our shared passion and then gone on to develop the idea. It's not impossible but it's unlikely that it would have happened right now. And that is the power of networking.
It was fitting therefore that the official launch of the WyeDean Deli confidential should be at CAP and to our colleagues on the Tuesday evening group. But one of the real strengths of group networking is the ability to ask a question and then, most importantly, to listen. Paul convened a round table session for us as part of the concise and no nonsense launch. We had an opportunity to ask our colleagues for their views and to put three key (for us) questions to them. Our group, like all of the other individual groups, has a very diverse range of business skills and experience and we really valued the honest and supportive input we got from them - lots and lots of valuable input in fact.
These sessions are so valuable not just for the new ideas and experience based suggestions but also crucially as a health check for our own ideas, the very same ideas we spend so long internalising. It's also very motivating to hear other small business owners say - out loud again - that your idea is a good one, adds something to the area we love and live in and fills a necessary gap in the market. Sometimes we forget that amongst the blizzard of readily available business coaches and mentors, that our colleagues right next to us, whatever their individual trade or profession, hold just as much business wisdom because they have the practical experience in success and sometimes stark personal exposure of failure. I think that it was Donald Trump who said originally said "Some days you win, and some days you learn" and those hard lessons add a very practical and valuable perspective. We'd strongly recommend these CAP round table sessions to anyone starting to develop a new business or new business idea - they invaluable and a great source of learning for everyone involved.
And so WyeDean Del confidential is a complimentary addition to, and development of, our existing businesses we know will be a major success but we appreciate the motivational start CAP Business Club members and Paul James have given us and we look forward to their continued support in further round table sessions at future key stages of the blog and magazines business development.
And so in the next few days the first embryonic blog postings will be coming to life at https://wyedeandeliconfidentialblog.wordpress.com/ you can also follow us on Twitter at @YDeanconfident and here on Facebook
We've already started work on the first magazine so follow us on social media for publication dates etc. If you are or know of anyone who you think no blog or magazine should miss out please let the editorial team time know by email at email@example.com
If you'd like to advertise with us or be featured by us please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org
Bex Cobham and David Broadbent
'Ode CAP Thursday Club'
At six o’clock, the annoying sound
Of an alarm clock crashing to the ground,
I thrash around to mute the notes
And now it’s buried in my Totes!
My wife complains, I say with wit,
“I’ve already put a sock in it!”
It must be Thursday, joy of joys,
As I find the clock and kill the noise,
I’m off to CAP to hear Paul say,
“The best way to start your working day”.
As Paul decides who’ll take the floor,
Cecile the Books bursts through the door;
Her admin systems are the best
But late again she has a rest!
Every member talks in turn
That about their business we might learn;
Sharifa’s bow ties, Laura’s knitting
And Andy B with Ariel fitting.
There’s Grantly Rogers, Pet Supplies
And Tracy Ashford’s legal eyes.
Sharon’s there to sell your house
Megabyte Ben will clean your mouse.
A back passage that is shiny bright?
Dave Leopold will see you right.
Andrea sends you somewhere sunny
Whilst Charlotte P in on the money;
Andy tells of Graphics Shack
And Alison wants her Lemon back.
Photography? Please keep it local,
A point on which she’s very vocal!
No matter what you must insure
We have a Rev who knows the score.
To make the most of staff resources
With Karen Gane you should join forces;
Think you’re dyslexic, please don’t jest,
Kris Ventris Field will run a test.
Then Eric W says out loud,
“I’ll stick your data on a cloud”.
Power of Attorneys, protecting the weak?
Just contact Val if its help you seek
And should you need to advertise
Forest Jo will put you wise.
If your web traffic is to slow,
Andrew Callard’s in the know;
Nick Johnson is the mortgage king
Whist Ian does his social thing.
Want your kids to have a ball?
Paul’s Best Parteez does it all.
Who else is there for goodness sake?
Ah, Sarah Jones, she’ll bake a cake.
I guess that just leaves little me
Your friendly face from Leigh-on-Sea.
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