How much time do you put into planning your networking events?
A lot of effort goes into coming up with a good pitch – especially if, like the Wakefield Wire, you meet regularly. Then there’s making sure you’ve got good business cards, that you’ve remembered to take them with you, along with a notebook and a good attitude.
Just planning your 60 second pitch can take a while – unless you’re a seat-of-the-pants networker of course, and there’s a few of them at the Wakefield Wire! Nevertheless, it’s a shame to put all that creative thinking into one single event. Why not make sure you’re networking ever-ready, instead?
The work you put into maintaining professional relationships is mirrored in the relationships you keep up with your neighbours, friends and extended family, not to mention the people you volunteer with, the people you meet at birthday parties, weddings and on trains.
We’re not saying you need to be ‘always on’, ready to whip out your pitch-perfect business spiel at the drop of a hat. That would be inappropriate and a big turn-off, especially at granny’s birthday tea. But what about the stories, the anecdotes and the inspiring titbits you pick up during your working day?
Without pushing anyone, it is perfectly acceptable to allow the trusting relationships you already have in your life to be channels for referrals and recommendations. After all – do your family even know what you do?
Maybe you think they’re not interested – but you wouldn’t leave it at that with your professional colleagues. It’s your job to make your work interesting to the people you’re talking to – and that means anyone who might then go on to talk about you to their friends and colleagues.
Here’s an example. A self-employed woman attends a meeting of her regular monthly networking group. They’re having brunch, which on this occasion was supplied by one of the group members, who runs a local outside catering firm.
She is so impressed with the quality of the brunch and the service, she is still family dinner, describing in particular the apple crumble cupcakes that she just knows her husband would adore.
Her husband is a sales director for a large furniture company. They have an established relationship with a catering firm already, but he mentions the referral to some of his suppliers. One of them is hosting a seminar later that month – so they try the caterer out. Through that, she gains three new clients – and the husband gets to taste the apple crumble cupcakes!
Your business stories can travel further than you can – so tell them well, to the right people, in the right moment.