4 Ways To Improve Your Networking In 2018

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way! Oh, what fun it is to build a business successful-eee – hey!

Ok, enough of that.

In all seriousness though, Christmas is fast approaching, and for many business owners that means looking back on 2017 to see what went well, and what maybe didn’t work out how they’d like. Networking is often one of those things that gets put into the latter group – but it doesn’t have to be. Thousands of successful businesses have been built up based almost exclusively on networking, and millions of business owners rely on the networks they create to help them grow year on year. Us included. And since our own lovely Lisa is not only the president of the most successful networking group in Reading, but was also a Venus awards finalist for the category ‘Networker of the Year’, we wanted to share some of her ‘top tips’ to make networking really work for you in the new year.

Be More Proactive

Networking works best when you are proactive about it – after all, growing your business isn’t a passive thing! New customers and strategic partners aren’t going to just fall into your lap, so it’s important to put in the effort. So assess your current networking, and see how you can make it more proactive. That might mean going to more events, expanding your radius or having a specific referral ready for every event. As well as being proactive for yourself, you should be proactive for those who ask you for a specific referral. If you know the person they’re asking for, ask them what would be the best way to introduce you, and follow through on it. If you don’t, check your LinkedIn profile and see if they are a second or third generation contact, and if they are, try and get an introduction that way. When you go the extra mile for someone, they are more likely to do the same for you.

Don’t Give Up When You Get Busy

The most common thing we see in networking is new members who come along for 3 or 6 months, work the rooms really hard and generate a lot of buzz and business, and then disappear. It turns out, they were getting so much return from all of their dedication that they felt they didn’t need to network any more. That sounds great, right? But the problem is, once you stop being present in the room, stop working hard and stop showing up, people will start to put you to the back of their minds in favour of the people actually there. Sometimes, if you leave for a long time, people even forget you exist, or think you went out of business! And when the rewards of all that hard work start drying up and you need new work, you will have to start all over again from scratch, building those relationships up. So even if you’re really busy, make sure you still make the time to go networking and engage in it. You’ve put so much into it, don’t let it all go to waste.

Prepare!

There is an old saying – failing to prepare is preparing to fail – and when it comes to networking that’s absolutely true. Too many people just walk into networking events and hope for the best, but are disappointed when they don’t get as much as they had hoped for. The most successful networkers have put some time and effort into preparing themselves for each and every networking meeting. That prep can be as small as making sure they’ve got clean clothes and remembered to brush their teeth (it seems harsh, but it does happen!). It can also be preparing a 60 second pitch, getting your business cards and leaflets together and looking up the name of a specific referral you want to ask for. Be prepared in what you want to say and what you want to achieve, and you’re much more likely to see success.

Be A Giver

Our final tip sort of links in with our first, and that’s ‘be a giver’. We shouldn’t really need to say more than that (but we will). Human beings are very simple really, and one of the things we all respond strongly to is generosity. If someone goes out of their way to help us, give us advice or help us grow, then we feel a sort of obligation to pay them back, to show them how much we appreciate it. This is the whole idea behind ‘givers gain’ – if you help another person out by giving them their dream referral, recommending them to people and helping them out, they are very likely to do the same in return. Plus, being a giver is generally a nice thing to do!

At Pickle, we are serial networkers. Lisa, Yan and even Pickles are always out and about at different networking groups, building up relationships and generating business for ourselves, our strategic partners and even our customers. Over many years, this has been a key part of our own marketing strategy, and one we’re not giving up any time soon. If you’d like some tips on improving your networking, or want to know how to get into it for the first time in 2018, we’d be happy to help. Just get in touch with one of the team today for a cup of coffee and natter with one of our experts!



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