Why Should You Be Networking?

Networking is a great way to promote your business and brand, and it offers a way to reach decision-makers which might otherwise be very difficult to engage with using conventional sales methods.  It allows you to make personal relationships with potential clients to share best practice stories with peers and competitors.

Become an Ambassador for your business by telling other people what you do or what you offer. If you teach people correctly they will take your message forward and remember you, and so your network begins.

There are many different groups that you can join. Some of the most popular are BNI, BOB Clubs, Chamber of Commerce, IOD, CBI all provide many different events and platforms throughout the year for their members.

Don't be afraid to start networking and hide behind other people - I've done that too! Instead find out the top tips for networking as a freelancer or home business and get stuck into learning what you need to do to grow your business leads.

Why should you start networking and pitch your freelance consultancy or home business

Before you jump right in, explore which type of networking may suit you best.

Types of Networking 

  • Breakfast Networking
  • Lunches or Dinners
  • Speed Networking
  • Power Networking
  • Table Swap Networking

 

Where To Start Networking

Some networking events can be pretty intense in that you must attend on certain days and times of the week to keep your place, some only allow a certain number of attendees from each sector and then there are others that are a little more relaxed and informal.

A few might insist that you bring a friend, while others ask you to intro the person beside you.

All this may be too daunting for a first timer, so find this out before turning up, paying a fee and then escaping to the loo in order to avoid something that makes you uncomfortable. Or try online networking where you don't have to make up your face!

There are many places to find out where to start your networking. Check our Networks or try finding your own in your local region.

 

Networking Tips

Here are a few tips on how to get started with networking:

1. Consider what sort of networking you want. Make sure it is relevant to you and your business, that it has the right sort of people attending and the time of day suits you.

2. There are many networking groups out there, most of them offering membership.

3. Mary warns you to not join any group and hold on to your hard earned money until you are sure of the group you would like to join, check what benefit it has to offer you and then invest your time in that group.

4. Being part of a business group is important, but it has to be the right one. Most groups will allow you to attend as a guest or non member, either for a limited period or at an extra cost.

It is worth investing your time to see which one suits you, also be aware of referrals you may have to make for other people. This is great when it works, but be careful you are not spending valuable time finding work for others and lose sight of your own goal.

 

Preparing For Networking

1. Make sure you are well prepared, in advance of the event get a copy of the delegate list.  

2. Take a good look through this to understand the types of people attending and who you would like to meet.

3. Ensure that you have plenty of business cards to give out at the event.

4. Use compelling intros - not “My business is a job board” instead use something along the lines of “Remote Employment champions remote and home working” or “I am an author” rather say “Through my books and workshops, I help start ups create a successful online presence”.

5. You want to build a good reputation amongst fellow networkers so be receptive and friendly.

6.  Always be interested in what other people are saying. Make the conversation about them rather than you, people like to feel that they are interesting and listening is a great way to research their business needs. This allows you to identify if your business can help them. The smartest way to interact is to allow your fellow networker to do 70% of the talking!

7. Don’t aimlessly collect business cards – that’s a hobby. Collect cards from people you know you can genuinely help or try to help – that’s networking.

If you don't know of any local networking groups or are too plain scared to try it out, why not give online networking a try with iHubbub's online speed networking. Our first session was fantastic with our home business members networking in their slippers.

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