Deb McGargle on networkingThere was a time when I just couldn’t bear the thought of networking.  The walking in the room and knowing no-one, the getting to the right room in the first place and that whole talking about yourself/business card trade malarkey – it’s enough to frighten the most confident person to death!  And as time went on, I found that I wasn’t alone; I hear it almost daily from new clients of mine who understandably say they feel physically ill at the thought of going into a room of strangers and ‘selling their wares’. 

Particular

All this changed for me, when I realised that there isn’t really a right or wrong way to network.  There are lots of different ways to connect to people whether this is by attending at an event, joining a discussion group or forum, or via social media. 

Events are the most proactive to my mind but here’s the thing; forget the door, forget the room in fact.  I have made just as many contacts in networking venue corridors, lifts, car parks and the ladies loo’s (please note: male readers should apply this to the masculine equivalent!) as I have in the room itself.  I always encourage my clients to try at least one event and even go one step further in offering to go along to that event with them so I can personally introduce them to faces I know.  You’d be surprised how much business being an ‘introducer’ can bring you when you are actually trying to promote someone else’s business!

Networking does work; there is a wealth of research in this area providing statistics such as 70% of all new business is gained through word of mouth. What’s more, it’s inevitable if you want to follow a new path or start a new business.  The key is to identify what suits you best as a person, work out how much time have you got to put into this and be truthful to yourself about your expectations. 

When business ‘experts’ tried to analyze networking and formalize it they actually forget the main ingredients: the fact that it is really good fun, its accessible (there are loads of events in the North East running throughout the working day to suit your business) and most importantly, more often than not you come away feeling motivated, re-energized, focused and ready to face the week ahead.  Landing some new business there and then is not the cake; it’s just the cherry on top.

Looking forward to meeting you at an event soon!

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