Our Experience With Business Networking
Business networking comes in all shapes and sizes, and at a huge range of costs. We don't think that you have to spend the earth to get good results though, but you do have to have a strategy, and work hard to achieve it.
This is sometimes made easier by the way the group is run. For example the BNI's of this world (though we don't subscribe) are very well organised, with a stringent structure in place that "forces" you to behave in a certain way. There are definitely tips that can be taken away from that.
Have a methodology, be consistent, have 1-2-1's outside of the groups (super important!), meet reguarly, set yourself goals. And wherever/whenever possible, take the oportunities you are presented with. For example at our 4 Networking group in Oxford (4 Networking Oxford), and indeed all 4 Networking groups, there is a chance to do stand up in fornt of the room and do an 18 minute presentation. It's also possible to take up a team role which provides additional benefits.
Another fantastic network is that of B4 (all the 4's today!), which can be found here: B4 Events. They run a tradeshow event called Business In Oxford (BIO), which is coming up this June, more info here BIO 2019
if you are going to a group,and you are expecting to pick up clients that are in the room from your ~40 second introduction then that is NOT going to work. Maybe, once or twice, but never consistently. You need to do more, market yourself better, and engage with networking the right way, and above all be nice :-) !
We don't network as much as we should, but we do engage with the groups we attend, and we give back to the community in the way of referals. On that note, making referals as a company recommending another persons services to your clients is HARD. To begin with you won't want to do it, you might think you will spoil the relationship. In reality it's more likely they will say yes, cheers, I could do with speaking to that person. Or just simply, no thanks, not at the moment. Just be upfront about it, it's not a show stopper! From the other side, as a referree, try and make it easy for the referer to recommend you. Do a small bit of work with them, get to know them better, create an exclusive offer for their clients.
More info on 4 Networking
A typical 4N Meeting format -
- General networking over welcome tea/coffee before a sit-down lunch whereby everybody has the opportunity to do a 40 seconds introduction/pitch, followed by a 20 minute 4sight from a guest speaker.
- Everyone will then have the opportunity for 3x 10 minute 1-2-1's with people they would like to find out more from/have a chat with.
- There is also a Bumf Table, so attendees can bring business cards, pop-up banners, and literature or any offers they may have.
- Cost is £15/meeting plus membership fee (e.g. £100 for 100 days).
- Meetings are held Uk wide, with breakfast, lunch and dinner meets available, six days a week!
The 4sight (foresight) is a great way to develop public speaking skills in a friendly environment, and builds confidence and credibility. It is a great way to get known for a certain specialism, or just a way for people to get to know the man/woman behind the business.
Andrew Elder will be doing a 4sight on the following days:
Oxford Lunch – 25 April, at The Turnpike Inn, Oxford, OX5 1PJ
Dunchurch Lunch - 13th of May
Entitled: Practical Data Security for SMEs - How to keep your data safe, for low cost or no cost.
if you do it, do it properly. it's just another tool so learn how to weild it. And yes, we do make money for our business from networking so for us, it is worth it.