Read the article on the Monthly Chronicle website here.
Alexi Boyd is a business owner and presenter of Small Biz Matters, Triple H 100.1FM, Tuesdays 9am.
Check out www.smallbizmatters.com.au for podcasts and local networking opportunities.
~ The half hour radio program where you work on your business rather than in it ~
To Network or Not to Network? … That is the question
Ahh networking, you either love it or hate it. You’re either a natural or curl up into a ball in the corner at the mere mention of the concept. Regardless of your instinctive reaction you should at the very least get your head around it as a business owner.
In this day and age, with all the competition, you need to have your marketing arrows in your quiver poised and ready to fire. And networking has to be one of them.
So the question is, do you REALLY need to network? Let’s get back to basics first.
Networking comes in all shapes and sizes:
- ontribute online to Facebook groups;
- Offer advice to other businesses online or in person when recommended;
- Actively going to a specific event designed to grow businesses in your area chatting to other businesses;
- Inappropriately passing out business cards at family functions mentioning to everyone with ears what you do and how much you love what you do and how fabulous you are at it; and
…. Did you pick the odd one out?
The last option is what everyone hates about ‘networkers’; those who take over conversations, talk over the top of you, and literally stare into space when you do get a word in edgeways. Believe me I’m not a fan of the ‘professional’ network marketers (I don’t really understand or want to know what that is) but we can learn something from them.
It’s about finding the balance of getting your message across without falling into the “that guy was so annoying – make sure you avoid him always” category.
So if you behave like this, you probably should NOT network:
- Hold your cards in your hand as you talk, ready to pounce
- Interrupt a group or pair already involved in a conversation by saying “can I butt in?”
- Chat to other parents at school & sporting events about your latest offer
- Immediately state that you’re looking for a (insert occupation here) so build your Referral Network and if that person isn’t in the category you’re after run away
- If you’re a really bad listener.
But if you genuinely like to hear about what other people do, and listen with interest to their business passion, if you like to help other people and if you are a nice person then you’re PERFECT for networking!
It’s more about being a genuine person, a person people would like to connect with on a personal level rather than building business relationships that will lead to guaranteed work…
You may also genuinely not like the idea of networking. Maybe you really are phobic about it (there are strategies you can learn to overcome that) OR you are so fabulously successful you don’t need to network (yeah, but that will change and are you skilled up and ready for that?).
Maybe it’s just too expensive (you don’t have to fork out thousands – especially around this area of Sydney) or maybe your target market isn’t small business (we all have big clients too…)
See what I did there? All those reasons you thought networking wasn’t for you I just debunked. Clever huh? So go out and give it a try … unless of course you have the Golden Reason for not networking… you’re a secret agent and no one can know what you do….