Your Business Network – Part 3 – What Type of Networking is Right for You?

In this multi part blog, one of our founders, Robert Newman, analyses the best ways to grow your business network with exerts from his book –  ‘Your Business Network – How to build and grow your network’.

This week, we discuss what exactly the correct type of Networking is and which one is right for your business.

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“Instead of telling the world what you’re
eating for breakfast, you can use social
networking to do something that’s
meaningful.”
Edward Norton

It can be formal groups or informal groups or social network groups. Formal networks are groups of people that come together for networking purposes or because they have a common interest.

There are many formal network groups and each has their own set up, and there own way of working. Groups can meet weekly, fortnightly, monthly, bi‐monthly or at other intervals.

Some require a commitment – either in the form of a joining fee and / or in a minimum requirement for attendance. Some are relaxed (like First Wednesday!) – turn up and talk to
people. Some are structured – there is a format for the event. Some are breakfast meetings, some lunchtime and some early evening/after work.

Some groups will let anyone attend / join, in others they restrict the number of businesses in any one category.

The best way to approach it is to try different groups, and see which you think have the right people in them By the right people, we do not necessarily mean people who you are going to immediately do business with. It is rare that anyone in a service business for example would come away from a network meeting with a piece of business at the first go.

Rather you should look at the type of people at the event – are they decision makers? Do they appear to have good networks themselves? Is it a network where people come and go – which could be good for business that sell ‘products’ or low value ‘service’ items (garages, florists, masseurs, etc). Or is it a network which is stable and established – in which case you can get to know the same people over time (which can work better for ‘service’ businesses or high value items).

Consider which time of day suits you / your business / your personal commitments better, and look for networks that operate at that time.

A typical structured network meeting would be 2 hours long, would start with informal networking followed by breakfast or lunch, where the network leader would facilitate each person to deliver a 2 minute ‘this is me’ speech to the whole room, or facilitate the tables to have those discussions within themselves.

Never dismiss anyone sitting next to you, or at your table, because networking is not about grabbing as many business cards as possible and dismissing those who are not your target audience. It is about building relationships. The person sitting next to you may have a client who is the perfect client for you. Their brother might be the MD of a business you want to speak to. They may have gone to school with the client you have been trying to get into for months.

Networking Skills

Effective networking is the process of developing long-term, mutually beneficial relationships. It will improve your reputation and your business. You can do many things to ensure that your networking is successful. These things can be broken down into…

  • Preparation
  • Presentation
  • Follow-up

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In the next blog, we’ll continue with the topic: Networking Skills.