A world full of uncertainty – but a world which because of technological disruption gives us business opportunities that were not available before.
A question that I am frequently asked during my speaking engagements is – in a world of famous ‘You tubers’ and a world in which there are a plethora of social media platforms – why do we need to physically network?
Physical networking is time consuming,
You meet the same people,
There is very little ROI,
Everybody is trying to sell to you
Opportunity cost of doing something else instead
Social media is free
As human beings we are engineered to socialise – to meet other people and engage with them. It is a natural way to widen your circle of contacts and influence whilst enjoying the company of others. Indeed, social media can allow you to increase and support your network.
So why do people object and view networking with such negativity. It is largely because they approach networking in the wrong way. When it became apparent to me that I needed to network to increase my business – I did precisely that – I went out to sell…..!!!!
I am certain that I blurted out endlessly what I did without listening to the other. I did not understand that I could benefit from networking by finding new suppliers – it always about the SALE !!! I concentrated on the top line and not the bottom.
But had I followed the advice of Dr Ivan Misner – my approach would have been different. The latter argued that you first need to build your visibility – ie be seen because failing to be seen will mean that you will be ‘out of sight’ when people look at potential suppliers. You then naturally need to progress onto being viewed as someone ‘adding value’. If you can achieve this then the chances are that you will over time build your credibility which will eventually translate to sales and profits.
Credibility is based on perception and what people think of you as a personal brand. It is therefore important that you ensure that your online brand ( ie social media profile ) is consistent with your off-line brand. If you can ‘marry’ the two, this will greatly enhance not only your credibility but also your ability to translate activity to sales and ultimately profit.
Networking is a very important part of your marketing mix and irrespective of your sector brings many benefits.
It allows you to:
- Learn from other people
- Increase your profile
- Make some great friends who will promote your business for you
- Increased confidence
- Seek advice – by surrounding yourself with ‘better’ people
- Generation of sales/increased business
- Increased connections – ‘its not what you know – but who you know’
- Because of 7 – it may become ‘who knows you’…
- Satisfaction of helping others
Final piece of advice – plan and question why you are attending a networking event and ensure that you follow up if for nothing else but to say ‘hello’. If others connect with you – reply to their emails as todays sellers could be tomorrows buyers. They will remember that you did not reply.
In today’s disruptive world – nothing has really changed – people still buy from people. People buy from people they trust and who they believe have integrity and can add value. Social media is just a tool but an important part of the overall brand mix.
There are plenty of excellent networking events including your local Chamber of Commerce, Chutney and Chat, Coffee and Natter, BCRS Business Lunches, 4 Networking and many others and of course my company – Nachural is holding its Nachural Summer Business Ball and Awards on the 29th June at the Wolves Racecourse and the Nachural Entrepreneurship Awards in Leicester on the 28th September.
Hope to see at one of these events. www.nachural.co.uk
Happy networking……and remember it’s a long game… technological disruption can never change that…..