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Networking – Feast or Famine – Birds on the Blog

Networking – Feast or Famine

You’ve recently launched your business and friends have encouraged you to start face-to-face networking. You can’t see the point and are doubtful of its success as you’ve heard from others that it’s all about people trying to sell to you, but your friends have insisted that it’s worked for them, that you must go and to go regularly to see the benefits. They also say that it’s likely to be a slow burn. And reluctantly you start attending.

After a while you look forward to going to the meetings; people are friendly and supportive and they share your details with their contacts, and low and behold, business starts to come in. You’re also enjoying being able to help them by making connections for potential clients. They appreciate your value.

You’ve learnt

You’ve learnt to listen, maintain eye contact which shows you’re interested in that person; you’ve learnt important body language, including a firm, non-bone crunching handshake. A study on handshakes by the Income Centre for Trade Shows has shown people are twice as likely to remember you if you shake hands with them. The reason we use our right-hand to shake hands is possibly for another article!

You’ve learnt

You’ve learnt to say your name James Bond style…  as you extend your hand, you say – Jane, Jane Bond.

You’ve learnt

You’ve learnt not to cross your arms (defensive gesture) when in conversation and to wear any name badge just below your right shoulder, so when shaking hands their eye naturally falls to that position, making it easy to glance over and remember the name. You’ve also learned to stand as a basic sign of respect when shaking hands. And although sometimes nervous, you’ve learned to smile! No-one wants to talk to a misery.

You’ve learnt

Importantly, you’ve learnt to never thrust your business card first; learning to ask for their card and if they don’t respond by asking for your card, you ask them if they would like your business card.

You’ve learnt

You’ve also learnt to be respectful of other cultures, for example treating the business card of a Japanese businessman with the greatest of respect, taking time and carefully looking at the card both sides, and never writing on their card.

You’re now convinced that networking works

You’re building strong, trusting relationships.

Recent research by imago and Loughborough University School of Business & Economics found for 97% of meetings attendees gave small face-to-face meetings of fewer than 10 participants as their preference.

You’re also delighted that your business is becoming successful and busy. So busy that you take the decision to stop networking, after all, it’s done its job; your friends were right, you do get business through networking. And it’s fun! When you attend meetings such as 1230 The Women’s Company, there’s also delicious food to enjoy, occasional guest speakers and free workshops as well as great company.

Cash-flow

After a while, much to your alarm, the work starts to dry up, it’s impacting on your cash-flow big-time. The obvious solution is to start attending networking meetings again – your logic being it worked before, so should work again, and it does. And again, things are going well. After a while you decide again you’re too busy to attend the networking meetings. And a pattern forms, you get busy, you stop attending networking meetings, you take your eye off the ball, the work starts to dry up as does your income, you panic and start to attend the meetings again.

Your networking friends comment on this pattern with “Long time no see – not very busy at the moment?”

Then you realise. Not only is the stop attending, go back, stop attending, go back not good on your cash flow and customer relations, but it’s also letting people know when you’re not busy – not a good look for a successful business. After all, apart from your chums, would you go to a business which is clearly not busy? This is what I call “Feast or Famine”. They obviously can’t be much good, would be the thought.

What’s the answer?

As you’ve found, regular attendance works. Face to face communication has power. Even if you don’t get direct business from your connections, you get support, advice, learning, expertise and the opportunity to collaborate, which all help grow both you and your business.

You can’t be connected or recommended if you’re not there; you will easily get forgotten and those all so important connections will go to someone else. You know the expression – out of sight, out of mind.

CONGRATULATIONS!

Some of the journey may have been painful, but just look at all you’ve learnt! You’ve found the value of networking,  no more will you experience “feast or famine”. Make sure networking is part of your continued business growth and marketing strategy. The very best of luck, stay awesome and if I can help you any time, don’t hesitate to let me know.

Jackie Groundsell – MD of 1230 The Women’s Company and Birds on the Blog

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