The majority of experts would say yes to this question and many kindly offer free advice on this subject, which is awesome, especially if you are new to networking. But….maybe, just maybe there is more to it, depending on the type of networking events you attend. Let’s take a closer look.
So, if you tend to network across many groups, such as the extremely popular FSB meetings currently taking place all over the UK then a sharp approach would be effective. These meetings are different in the way that they are not a club with the same members who attend weekly, monthly etc, but rather more towards the ad-hoc approach. In instances such as these, professional advice would be - Be clear who you are and what you do, the benefits of working with or buying from you and throw in a testimonial if possible. This approach would also work well in networking organisations such as 4N and BNI.
There is however another point of view which would apply to groups like CAP Business Clubs, where the same people attend weekly, therefore are very familiar with each other. In these cases, we find the around the table/zoom introductions can be put to other usage. For example, just this morning a member at CAP Thursday Club used his intro to update the group on the progress of his business and asked for advice on storage for his stock. Another member offered advice on website traffic. You get the drift. There are exceptions to this though, for example - when other businesses visit or if you are new to the club.
To summarise - For the most part a well thought out clear, concise introduction is and should be executed exactly as the experts teach. But keep in mind, I believe (and it’s only my opinion) we should also be prepared to have a much more flexible approach depending on circumstances mentioned above.
The main thing is, just get out there and do it, learn, and enjoy!
I had the preconception that networking was for knobs and was full of go getters who were up their own asses with big egos - Look at me me me type people. So, avoided like the plague. Then in 2007 my wife and I bought a marketing business. After taking advice from other successful marketing businesspeople, I was advised to go networking. I decided this was not the route I would like to take…. however my wife persuaded me to go (yet another argument lost!).
I joined my local group and I remember very well my first 1-minute intro – I read my own name from a piece of paper, hands shaking and to be honest …whole body shaking. It was after this very first attempt at relaying to the group who I was and the purpose of my business that I realised that no matter how bad you are at this stuff, it really doesn’t matter…everyone is on your side.
Once I realised the potential, not just for my business but for me as a person there was no stopping me. I soon settled in and joined other groups too. Over the next 4 years we built the business, then sold it due to my wife having health issues. I really missed the networking side of things but thought it had been a good experience anyway.
Then a year later an opportunity came along for me to start my own networking business group…I took it and CAP Business Clubs was born. At the time of writing this, CAP is fast approaching its 9th birthday. We have grown from a single club into 5 thriving clubs. The journey has been incredible in so many ways, but I think the biggest change for me is ‘as a person’. I found that by listening and learning from a diversity of members over the years I have become a better person….and let us be clear – A much better person. I have developed more empathy, more tolerance, much better business skills and I now fully understand power of collaboration. Doing things ‘Paul’ way was ok and worked to a degree, but now, I understand properly how other likeminded people can change the way you think for the good of your business and personal life.
There have been so many heart warming stories of members pulling each other up during challenging times. And especially during the ‘Covid’ period, where CAP members across all the clubs shone like beacons in the night. I am so grateful to be a part of this fantastic journey ….and best bit is – The best is yet to come!
5 Top Tips For Successful Networking
Author - Paul James - CAP Business Clubs
The days of the ‘hard sell’ has diminished. However, people still have a ‘need’ or ‘desire’ to buy. This is equally true when it comes to networking. We mostly buy on emotion and trust, so be the ‘go to’ person for your product or service by demonstrating your powers of knowledge, reliability, and empathy.
1: Listen Learn & Help
Pay attention to everyone else in the group. Learn how they work, find a way to help them and book some time to discuss further. This will demonstrate you have listened to their challenges and can help with a solution. Now, here’s the trick – Still do this process even if you are not likely to achieve a sale from it. Maybe it’s not a product or service you supply that they are looking for, doesn’t matter, your advice will be appreciated and more importantly, remembered, therefore increasing your chances of future business not only with the member you helped, but their contacts too.
2: Be Consistent & Trustworthy
Being consistent will establish you as a trustworthy and conscientious person. It will also be an indication you are serious about your business. This is extremely important for the long-term success. If you say you are going to do something, do it! If you can’t, tell them. Treat everyone with the same respect.
3: Be Open to Diversity
Be tolerant of those differences, of people’s opinions and approaches. Embrace the fact that everybody has a different experience and look for what you can learn from them.
4: Success Stories
Everyone likes a story! Especially with a happy ending. How you helped someone get out of pain, or how much money or time you saved them, how it made them feel…how it made you feel. People buy predominantly on emotion, and stories are the best format to attract new business in your group.
5: Have Fun!
Work without fun is just work. Be the kind of person others wish to spend time with. Who wants to hang around with miserable, complaining people anyway? No-one. Well, the same applies to your business (networking) world. Be the person who others can have a laugh with when appropriate. We all know the power of laughter and how it affects the brain in a positive way …Enough said.
The world around us constantly changes, including the business world …No-one can stop it and now changes are taking place faster than ever before. In fact, the next 10 years be a pivotal point where changes will be greater than ever, and it would appear the world will become a vastly different place. The next generation of technology is upon us, the infrastructure is ready to unleash a whole new way of being for mankind. Electric cars will become the norm, robots will be our personal assistants and the virtual world will become ever more real….and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
So, do you perceive this as good or bad?
Whatever your answer, you will be right in your mind, but if your answer is, this is a bad thing, consider this. Currently, never in history of mankind have the people of the world been so affluent. Our creature comforts are far beyond the imagination of our predecessors. Hot water and warm homes on demand, his and hers vehicles, 50” tv’s, gadgets for everything, choice of foods from all around the world. I could go on. I think if we were transported back just 100 years we would have the shock of our lives!
So, do we believe as human beings we have arrived at our destination? That there is no more to achieve or improve? That our generation finally made it to finish line?…..No, of course not. So why do we find changes such a challenge?
Mindset is the answer – Changes require learning new skills, often unfamiliar which take us outside of our comfort zone, which in turn makes us feel uncomfortable. So how do we change our mindset? Acceptance is the answer – The world will continue to change whatever your views are. The more you accept this the easier it will be to thrive going forward.
Some changes will seem like a bad idea and some of them will be. Remember, everything we have achieved up to now is not necessarily the best thing. But changes will come so the best way forward is to accept and even embrace them. And keep this in mind – There will be countless opportunities for you, if you just look.
A big up for Zoom!
There is a myriad of articles currently circulating on social media platforms regarding ‘Zoom Fatigue’ and pretty much everything that is wrong with online meetings, of which some I agree with in general….to a point. We all know you simply cannot beat live meetings and as human beings we are designed/programmed to interact with one another in a social environment. 2020 has been a transformational year and especially for business owners around the Globe. Online meetings have replaced most of the face to face meetings out of necessity rather than choice. However, speaking as someone who had never heard of Zoom, or any of the other online platforms for that matter before the pandemic, my personal experience has been a mixed bag of conclusions.
I run Business Networking Clubs. These are traditionally live meetings, relying on human face to face interaction for their success. I am speaking from personal experience here, but I believe online meetings were relatively painless to adapt to and will have a place in the business world going forward, long after the pandemic has passed.
Let us take a quick look at some of the pros for the online platforms.
First and foremost, it has allowed businesses to continue holding vital meetings, and I am sure many people would agree that it is a surprisingly good second best. Then there is the convenience side, with less travelling time which is also good for the environment as well as our pockets! Another thing to consider, and this is potentially a big one – Geographical boundaries have been removed for many business owners, allowing them to expand with minimal costs. Also, with the obvious time saving aspects, it allows for more meetings, which to be honest could be the reason many are complaining of Zoom fatigue.
I am sure there are plenty more advantages not written here, and I am aware online meetings are not for everyone. I just thought amongst all the negative vibes I would point out the good stuff. Of course, I would defend Zoom, it saved my business and for that I am very grateful, especially as my other business fell down.
Paul James - CAP Business Clubs