Little Black Business Books - Networking Step By Step
eBook - ePub

Little Black Business Books - Networking Step By Step

A guide to making networking work for you

Marilyn Messik

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  2. English
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eBook - ePub

Little Black Business Books - Networking Step By Step

A guide to making networking work for you

Marilyn Messik

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About This Book

Little Black Books offer a feet-on-the-ground, pared down, common sense, no holds barred and hopefully constructive take on the things that can make your business soar or sour! You will find them full of:- Practical steps and suggestions - Ideas and initiatives - Inspiration and incentives - Suggestions to help you prioritise and get you thinking- Reasons for trusting your own common sense and business instincts.They'll also show that whilst there's no short-cut to success, sometimes you find it in the most unexpected places by just looking at things from unusual angles.

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Information

Year
2011
ISBN
9781908003140

Chapter 1

MAKING NETWORKING WORK FOR YOU

First and foremost let’s define this word which has become both buzzword and byword for what the with-it business person has to be doing a lot of the time. In actual fact it’s something most of us have probably been doing for years anyway, and if you’re a woman then you probably do it very often and very well indeed.
Nowadays we call it networking, a few years ago we just called it being helpful and it’s something we all tend to do because it’s great if you can connect two people each of whom needs what the other has to offer, and of course that applies just as much to matching up your husband’s best friend with your second cousin Edith, as it does to business. For the moment though let’s stick to business – although who’s to say a book on matchmaking isn’t crying out to be written?

Networking In Its Various Formats

Networking comes, as indeed do networkers, in all types, shapes and sizes.
  • There are weekly breakfast meetings for those who are natural larks and can get themselves to a designated location bright-eyed and bushy tailed, completely compos mentis and raring to go around the same time the dawn chorus is rubbing its eyes and clearing its throat for action.
  • Then of course there are plenty of opportunities for owls who wouldn’t even attempt anything businesslike before 10.00 a.m. but are quite happy to go on meeting and greeting until someone clears the tables, switches off the lights and asks them to leave.
  • And let’s not forget the mid-morning coffee get-togethers which allow you a civilised amount of time to gather yourself, your wits and your business cards together, roll up, get a shot of caffeine or camomile tea, (different strokes for different folks) and hit the decks running.
  • Most civilised and settled of all formats is possibly the lunchtime meeting where things operate to a rather more fixed agenda than the above. There’s plenty of time for free-wheeling before and after the meeting which usually has a noon start but does includes a more structured section which usually runs from 12.30p.m. to 2.00p.m.
Naturally, none of the above are mutually exclusive and it’s how much stamina, time, inclination and number of business cards you have to hand that might be your deciding factor. You could probably quite easily waft from one networking meeting to another every day of the week and most hours of the day. Although this is not something I’d whole-heartedly recommend if you’re a one man band, as it obviously doesn’t leave much time to actually run the business you’re promoting. However, if there are several of you involved in the business and one of you wants to play the rainmaker, grab your umbrella and go for it!
Ideally though you should strike a happy balance between networking and working and the easiest way to do that is to think and plan ahead. You’ll find forward dates for meetings on all the various networking sites. If you sit down with these and a diary you can plan for and block out dates up to a year ahead. This will mean you have a healthy balance between going out and getting potential new clients and regularly shooting back to base so you can actually supply whatever it is those new clients might want.

What You Can and Can’t Expect From Networking

Putting yourself about, telling people about your business and finding out about theirs should be productive. However there’s no time frame that comes with that. So lower rather than higher expectations are recommended. This will also prevent you sobbing and banging your head in despair on the steering wheel as you drive home after a meeting where you’ve gained no new clients at all.
It’s quite likely that you won’t get any business immediately, however attractively you set out your metaphorical stall, and obviously the service or product you supply will have a huge bearing on how and when clients start to come calling. If, for example, you specialise in building conservatories and extensions, then that’s a big purchase and not something people agree to casually. Your marketing message might have to germinate a while before it starts sprouting. On the other hand, if you run a hairdressing or beauty salon you’re more likely to see a drifting in of clients sooner rather than later.
But setting your expectations realistically shouldn’t ever lull you into smugness. It’s always worth wondering whether you’re getting your business message across correctly to potential clients or whether they are in fact more mystified after you’ve spoken than they were before you started – and, we’ll cover that in depth further on in the book.

Dos, Try Not To Dos and Don’t Evers!

A few pointers here that are pretty basic common sense so forgive me for stating the obvious, but sometimes – and I’ve done it myself more times than I like to remember, so I know – there are some things that are so blinking obvious we sometimes simply overlook them.
Do look good – we’re not talking designer here but you never know who you’re going to meet and you never know by what standards they will assess you. Of course you can’t please all of the people all of the time but at least go for the basics:
  • Wear comfortable clothes so you’re not fiddling and hitching.
  • Don’t nibble reflectively on a thumbnail whilst listening to someone else talk.
  • Make sure your hair is not going to become a feature of the meeting – no frequent gathering up and tossing it back over your shoulders, no twiddling it round your finger while you talk and certainly – and I wouldn’t put this in here if I hadn’t seen it done – no chewing of ends!
We’ll be covering presentation in further detail as we wend our merry way, but if you’re in any doubt, a good rule of thumb is don’t wear or do anything you wouldn’t like to see anyone else wearing or doing!
Don’t gabble, don’t babble, don’t giggle, don’t talk about yourself all the time, don’t feel tempted to launch into details of your recent relationship break-up or the tragic and untimely demise of your hamster and don’t, don’t, don’t keep glancing over the shoulder of the person you’re talking to in case someone more interesting happens along.
I’m not suggesting you can’t ever be yourself and relax, just don’t lose sight of why both you and the other people there have pitched up. You’re there for business reasons and whilst fast friendships may and often do develop with people you meet, your personal trials and tribulations are always best kept to yourself at this point.
The looking over someone’s shoulder syndrome is unfortunate and should be nipped very firmly in the bud, whatever the temptation. People aren’t daft, and nothing says more clearly ‘I’m bored rigid with what you’re saying and don’t think you’re going to be any use to me at all...’ than that telltale eyeing up of the rest of the room to see who you want to target next.
There’s not really any such thing as wasted time at a networking meeting – well there is, but you won’t know about it until much later. The person you’re talking...

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