The word “networking” has a bad name! I recently delivered a Networking Masterclass on behalf of Kildare Local Enterprise Office for National Women’s Enterprise Day. I carried out a survey beforehand to get opinions about the purpose and benefits of networking.
The results were interesting and suggest many people have a type of “love/hate” relationship with this business activity.
65% attend 2 events or fewer per month
68% of respondents said that attending networking events was “Extremely important” or “Very Important” for their business. They enjoy meeting new people, building relationships and making connections. Yet the majority of respondents (65%) attend 2 or fewer networking events per month. I found this interesting. As a start-up, networking is essential for my business, to create awareness of who I am and the services I offer, and I attend 2-3 events per week. I enjoy meeting new people and learning about their businesses.
Of course, there are many reasons why business owners might not network more frequently- time, family commitments and these cold dark mornings aren’t easy for early events. For a lot of people, attending networking events makes them feel awkward and uncomfortable. There is uncertainty about how to join in a group, talking to new people, and dealing with people who only talk about themselves. For many, they dread the 60 second pitch that is a core part of many networking events. Yet, the advantages and benefits of networking are evident in their business.
Find an event that is the right fit
There are a huge number of networking events available, and it is important to find the ones that are the right fit for you and your business. You are investing your time – and usually your money- so establish beforehand what return you would like to see. Maybe it’s new connections and business referrals, but it could be support and collaboration. Set your targets for what you want to achieve- do you want to have conversations with new people? Set up 1-2-1s for afterwards? Make introductions?
The most successful networkers I know attend a variety of events and make meaningful connections and introductions. Networking is about building relationships, connecting with others and helping them. The benefits to your business come as a result of others getting to know, like and trust you.
Check out the softskillsuccess.ie/workshops for details of our next 60 Second Pitch workshop