Here at The Last Hurdle™ we are very pleased to introduce our first guest blog, some one we met through Networking so this blog is very apt, cast your eyes over the amusing and frank Networking Jungle blog from Sheila Smith of Knights and Hyde
‘Business networking will enhance your company profile and thus increase your turnover’ – don’t make me laugh! Well, that would’ve been my response in the past, but with a bit of social know-how, it really can work. What’s the alternative if you want to generate more leads for your business? Ah! Cold Calling! Y’know, that’s always been hard, never more so than now, it’s a sales technique people have become impervious to & in a downturn the resistance hardens further. Networking works because it’s a structured & continuous approach, you are on your target customer’s radar all the time, which is vital because a ‘buying need’ is often left purely to chance. Far be it from me to tell you how to do it, but I can share my observations & give a few pointers on how to survive the networking jungle:-
- Watch the pennies! To start with try out the ‘pay-as-you-go’ meetings first, don’t commit to weekly attendances & direct-debit payments until you are sure that it’s for you.
- With a date booked it’s quite normal to think ‘Oh No! Why did I agree to do this?!?’ Don’t worry, everyone has those moments so head for the ‘safe zone’ of the bar/buffet area, before long a networking veteran will spot you & shepherd you into the group.
- However tempting it might be, please don’t take a friend in the mistaken belief that it might help, it won’t. You will both end up huddled together adrift from the action with an opportunity lost – ‘Feel the fear & do it anyway!’ Whoever said that was on the money when it comes to networking!
- Be prepared to get out of your comfort zone (and your comfy bed for the breakfast meetings!). The mental ‘shove’ required will empower you.
- Stop Selling! Sounds odd, I know, but you will get your chance to shine & promote your business, everyone does, in the interim just be yourself, talk to others about their family/holidays/home etc & build a rapport, don’t people just love to talk about themselves! Oh, incidentally, people do business with those they like & trust so the sales pitch is redundant in this arena.
As you head out the door with a bunch of business cards in your pocket, think about how you can help others, maybe facilitate introductions outside the group too – oh, by the way, those cards are the start of your new networking database – good luck!