Why I Network
Whether it’s in person, or as is currently the case online, I enjoy business networking. But there are three things in particular that I look to get from it – that I hope to find at every event.
The first thing I want from any event is to learn.
I want to learn about people – what they do, how they do it, what problems they are facing and how they are they are growing their business. To do this I need to meet new people, to chat, to ask questions, but more importantly to listen.
I also want to learn about the world – to chat to people that have a different perspective on life, or who know different things to me.
And finally, I want to learn more about my sector (marketing) – to learn new tricks of the trade, new skills, new approaches. For that reason, I’m happy to attend events that are about marketing or to chat to marketing people at events. I’m not afraid of the competition, instead I see it as free mentoring!
To Help my Clients
Whenever I meet new people one of the first things I try to establish is whether they could help any of my clients or my other contacts. If there is an introduction I could make, or a piece of knowledge I could pick up, then that event has already ‘paid’ for itself.
To Have Fun
Running a business and working on your own is hard work, so it’s perfectly legitimate to have fun from time to time. For that reason, I look for events that I’ll enjoy even if the above two elements aren’t there. Going to Trent Bridge for a cricket tea, or attending a brewery’s beer tasting evening are events (run by Catena) that spring to mind. As L’Oreal would say, “I’m worth it!”
What I Don’t Do
If I can achieve any of the above elements at the events I attend then it will help me in business, either because I will be better at my job, or because I have developed a long-term relationship.
For that reason, what I don’t look for is short-term results from any networking event. I hate events that become like kids in the playground swapping football cards – “Got. Got. Need.” – with business cards. I hate events where the people chatting to you are constantly looking over your shoulder to see if there is anyone more ‘valuable’ they should be talking to.
For me, networking, like business, is about long-term relationships with good people.