This is the How To Start Networking Podcast transcript by Tracy Heatley.
“Welcome to my networking & communications podcast – how to be a networking ninja.
Networking is part of your marketing communications.
It’s a way of communicating your marketing message through word-of-mouth. Essentially, you’re purposely creating word of mouth to attract referrals from other people within your business community”.
You Need To Have A Plan
“Like any other form of marketing, you need have a plan, but before you can start to plan you need to work out what you want to achieve from your networking activities.
What does a return on investment mean to you? Is it just the fees that you pay out or is it about time that you need to put into networking to get results?
A lot of the time when I’m training people in the art of successful networking, when I ask them what they want to get out of networking, the initial response I get from this is, customers. I want new customers. That’s great, we all want new customers”.
Tell Me What You Want
I know I’m no spice girl, but I do need to ask you to tell me what you want, what you really, really want?
There’s no time like the present, so let’s work that out right now. If you’re listening in the office or at home, you may want to grab a pen and paper.
Perhaps you’re driving or just want to listen, that’s fine, too. You can simply think things through and come back to this part of the podcast later if you want to.
Many aspects of business links to your overall business goals, but let’s dig a bit deeper.
Why do you want to start networking? If you’ve been networking for some time, why do you network?
In his book, Start With Why, Simon Sinek, who is an expert in inspiring leaders to take action, focuses on Why, How and What. That’s what we’re going to focus on today, in that order.
Why are you networking or need to be networking?
How are you going to network?
What type of networking is a good fit for you and your business?
Why is the centre of everything – the top five reasons for networking are:
To win new business
To meet new people
To have a support network
To have access to a reputable supply chain
To be surrounded by likeminded people
Your why, may be one of these or it may be something different. It may be a mixture of all of the above.
Your Why is the key to answering the how and the what……
Let’s split networking it into two categories of face-to-face networking and online networking.
As I record this podcast, we’re still in lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which limits you to online networking right now, but it won’t be that way forever.
If we look what your why’s are to meet new people and be surrounded by likeminded people, then face-to-face networking is going to be particularly important to you.
If, however, all you’re interested in is a reputable supply chain, then online networking, via Linkedin, for example, may be preferable.
Making The Right Choices
Remember, that it’s important that you make choices that are right for your business, not just your personal preference. Let’s say, for instance, if you’re quite introverted or a tad uncomfortable about networking, then the safe option may be to hide behind your keyboard and build relationships through social media. What you need to ask yourself is if that’s what right for your business.
Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Often, our biggest rewards come when we get out of our comfort zone and do something that challenges us, so don’t close the door on face-to-face networking if you know it works for your kind of business.
In a few weeks, I’ll be doing a podcast on the distinct differences between introverts and extroverts, and how to adapt to build relationships with people who are different to you.
If you’re a people person and online interaction and networking through social media isn’t for you, that’s ok, but you may be able to extend your reach even further. Again, we’ll look at networking through LinkedIn on a future podcast too.
For now, let’s work out specifically what is the right networking platform for you.
When it comes to face-to-face networking, you’ve got many different options. When I started business networking in 2003, choice was limited. When I set up my own BoB Clubs North West networking groups, back in 2007, again the competition was much less than it is today.
These days, your choice is limitless. There’s some kind of networking out there for every business and to suit every individual
There are non-committal open networking events where you can just pay as go. These are great to tip your toe in the water or if you don’t want to commit to attending a regular networking group.
Open networking is more about meeting new people, some of whom you’ll never see again. Whilst others you may build a relationship with. Don’t be expecting quick results with this. Sometimes, people need to see you over and over again to build trust, so bare this in mind. That said, you might just meet your ideal customer and hit it off immediately.
If you’re choosing solely to do open networking, because you don’t want to commit to a regular networking group, please remember that no one has to commit to you either.
Membership Based Networking
Then there’s the membership-based networking groups that you will need to commit too. Some membership groups are referral based where members collaborate to refer as much business to each other as possible. Others just bring members together at meetings and it’s up to you to take it from there.
You need to find what’s right for you. If you’re thinking about joining a membership based networking group, because you want referrals, then make sure you get exclusivity and lock out the competition. Otherwise, members loyalty may be divided.
On the other hand, if gaining new business is not top of your why list, and you’re just after support and networking with likeminded people, perhaps a networking group with no business sector exclusivity will work for you.
My Rule Of Thumb
This is entirely up to you of course, but my general rule of thumb would be that one referral based networking group, per person, not per company. attending other open networking events and regularly networking online will help.
Some people think that working their way around as many networking events as possible is best, because they will meet more people. But, Consistency is key. People need to come into contact with you, like you and trust you before they’re going to do business with you or refer you onto someone else.
Be patient, because often it takes time to get results, but over the next few weeks and months, I’ll be demonstrating ways that you can get results far quicker than you ever thought possible.
Do Some Research
Next you need to do some research, and start attending some networking groups and events. Even if it’s online for now.
Have a look online, ask for recommendations on social media, speak to other people about the networking that they do.
And last, but by no means least, my favourite saying ever is – Just do it! Just do something today to get you closer to where you need to be
You may find my networking road map blog useful too.
If you’re still unclear, by all means contact me via my website or connect with me on LinkedIn and I’ll be more than happy to point you in the right direction. If prefer Facebook you can message me via my Facebook page to.
Thanks For Joining Me
I just want to say thank you for listening or reading the transcript of my How To Start Networking podcast! It’s my pleasure to help you become a networking ninja!