It is easy to be cynical about networking groups, especially in a time where social media has become more prevalent and getting the word out there has become easier. However, while the internet has proven to be increasingly important for businesses of all sizes it is important to not be dismissive of networking and there are some benefits you may not have thought of.
The first thing to clarify is that there are a number of different events out there. Some will be specifically for a local area, others will be geared toward certain types of business such as creative or technical organisations. Some may have certain rules regarding the amount that can join or you may be required to get a number of referrals each week within a group.
There are also differences in approach. Some will require you to stand up and pitch toward a whole group while in other cases it may be one where everyone mingles on a more relaxed and casual basis. In some ways it is like dating, you don’t necessarily go out with the first person you meet and you need to look around to find one that fits the needs of your business.
One crucial point with any group is to be realistic. It is very unlikely you will get a massive client in the first meeting. A better approach is to get to know people gradually and build up a rapport. While it may take time in the long term this can massively pay off.
It is also important to remember it is not just about money. If your computer breaks down then knowing someone reliable can fix it will save you as opposed to taking a chance with someone you don’t know and having to keep paying until you find that reliable service.
There is also the benefit of socialising in general. A problem with being self employed is you may not necessarily have office or Christmas parties and a networking group can provide that additional social framework that can get you away from the computer and maintaining human interaction.
When you are part of a group it is not just about you. In order to get the work, you need to demonstrate that you can help other people. If you can secure a big contract for somebody else or help with the running of the organisation then that will reflect well on you.
Equally you will know instinctively whether or not you are getting what you want from a group and whether your efforts have been sufficiently rewarded or not. Fortunately, most groups will offer at least one free session and during that time you can use that opportunity to get feedback while you’re there. As with any other product reviews online and social media can help as well to give you an idea of what groups are most effective for your requirements.
For more information on how we can help you get more from your network contact Digi Toolbox today.