What happens at your events is a question I very often get asked and it never fails to surprise me the misconceptions that people hold of ‘networking’ and how it literally frightens the life out of the most seemingly confident and capable of people. Thinking back though to my own first experience of ‘Networking’ I do empathise and understand where these misconceptions come from.
It was just over 2 years ago and I had been invited to attend a 4N Breakfast event in Winsford, Cheshire. I set off very early and spent the whole hour of travelling rehearsing my ‘pitch’ as I’d been fortunate to have a colleague give me some tips so I was able to prepare a little. I pulled up into the car park of the golf club where the meeting was being held and sat in the car park for a few minutes building up my courage. I had the expectation that I would be about to go into a room full of professionals dressed in suits who all knew each other well, I was also concerned that I wouldn’t be taken seriously as I was representing a skin care company and I wasn‘t a solicitor or accountant or any kind of ‘professional’. I found my way in and ventured up the stairs where I was greeted very enthusiastically by a lovely lady who welcomed me in and hugged me!! Not what I expected at all! She explained to me the format of the meeting and encouraged me to join in with the conversation of a group who were stood close by. Once I introduced myself & what I did I was so shocked by the interest those who I spoke to had in me & the business & also there interest in helping me. Another myth I believed of networking was that everyone would be out for themselves and only interested in promoting their own businesses but the people I spoke to showed a genuine interest in sharing ideas and opportunity’s they could see for my business! A total shock! I came away from the event buzzing with ideas and full of confidence and looking forward to my next networking opportunity!
So when I get asked what happens at our event I often answer by explaining that a Bizmums networking event is simply coming along to meet other self-employed mums to share what you do, make new connections, share ideas and most importantly to have fun!
Myths of networking
Myth – Need to be a professional
Fact – As long as you are in business, or have an interest in starting a business then networking could be for you, regardless of what industry that is in or if you work independently or as part of a larger organisation. For example at Bizmums we have huge spectrum of members whose businesses span from cake makers, wedding planners, photographers, web designers, financial advisors, accountants, Avon representatives, Utility Warehouse, Forever Living consultants. And all this wealth of experience and different viewpoints is invaluable as everyone has something they can help with. The one connecting factor is that they are all mums so can relate to each other’s concerns & frustrations, some are mothers of young children, others are now grandmothers but never the less they still have that instant rapport. So when looking for a network it’s just as important to find one which matches YOU as it is to find one which matches what you DO!
Myth – Everyone out to promote their own business
Fact – Any good networker understands the philosophy of ‘givers gain’ and it is only on the rare occasion that you will come across the blatant sales person totally out for themselves. If you go to a networking event with a query the sign of a good network will be a mass rush to help you and give you the support you need. And this is when the law of repricocity kicks in as you will now want to ‘pay back’ those who have helped you by helping them out with a query or giving them a referral or even sale and that is good true networking.
Myth – Scary, stuffy environment
Fact – I’ve been to many different networking events and even the most professional structured ones such as BNI and 4N are lots of fun and not at all scary once I’ve got in there and started talking to people. It’s taken me well out of my comfort zone but was always well worth it
Myth – It’s a waste of time
Fact – It will be if you don’t have a plan and you’re not doing it right. I’ve always taken something away from every networking event I’ve attended. It might just be information on another event to attend or a useful web address but most importantly I always leave feeling more confident and determined after spending time with positive like minded people.
Myth – What’s the point if I can’t take products to sell
Fact – Networking isn’t about selling it’s about building relationships. I would expect to have to meet in a network a minimum if at least 5 times before I would expect to make any kind of sale, if this happens before then that’s a bonus. It takes time for people to get to KNOW you, LIKE you and TRUST you. But once you have developed this relationship it is so powerful as you will become friends and the business transactions will just happen naturally. It takes time though and it won’t happen with everyone you meet but in this case it is certainly a case of quality over quantity and if you work on building those quality business relationships your success will follow I assure you!
I hope this has dispelled some of the networking myths you may have, If there are any more questions or concerns you have regarding networking then I’d love to hear them and hopefully answer them for you.
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