Paul Green

Networking Part 1 – it’s worthwhile for everyone

Network Effectively

By Paul Green, NN Connect

I’ve been networking for over 15 years now, and I’ve established what many people say is the most relaxed networking group in Northamptonshire – NN Connect.

I’m often amazed at how many people tell me that they DON’T network. I think it’s a missed opportunity, and so here are my thoughts to help you get the most out of networking.

 Networking myths

Here are a few objections I hear from people who don’t “do networking”:

  • “I don’t have the time.”
  • “I’m not in sales, so it’s not important for my job role.”
  • “Other priorities get in the way.”
  • “It would be lovely, but it’s a luxury I can’t afford in my job.”
  • “What – sitting around in a room with a group of people I don’t know? No way!”
  • “I just get too nervous to go networking.”

I see networking as making connections with people, and these connections will help us to achieve our goals. When you think about it, every get together in life is networking – a BBQ at the new neighbours, a parents’ evening with teachers, drinks after a round of golf at the weekend.

 

I’ve written two blogs to get you thinking about building in time for networking.

Your introduction

People say they dread being asked ‘So, what do you do?’.

I often hear “I’m a solicitor” or “I’m an HR Manager.”. Make your introduction more memorable with a story.

“I’m an HR Manager for {X Company}…at the moment we’re rolling out a global appraisal process, so I’m running conference cafés with our staff. Have you heard of the World Café approach?”

“I’m an Intellectual Property solicitor. I protect people’s ideas and inventions. I’ve just helped a small chocolate manufacturer patent a mould they have produced. It’s been on the Great British Bake Off – they need to protect how it is made, as it’s their invention.”

How Do You Measure The Value Of Networking?

There are many measures.

  • You will gain new suppliers that come recommended by people you know, like and trust.
  • You will gain new clients – yes, it may take time – but we buy from people we know, like, and trust.
  • You will raise your PR. This may be at a local, regional, sector specific, or global network.
  • You will have a group of people you can ask for their advice, share ideas with, and who will act as a sounding board for you.
  • Most network groups have an education slot, so you will learn from your peers.
  • You can showcase what you do – the Trainers Network Northamptonshire has enabled both in-company, and self employed L&D people, to share experiences, know-how, and test out new materials.
  • It can increase your social media reach.
  • Networking will give you a variety of people to call on when you need help, when you are stressed, or when you are stuck with a problem you don’t know how to solve.
  • It will enhance your understanding of what other companies/departments do, and how they work.
  • It will improve your chances of getting a job.

Finally, what about the social aspect? Being able to get away from the task side of work to spend a couple of hours at a network event is a real tonic.

“Thank you so much for the session on social networking – it energised me to re-start my social media strategy.” – Jennifer Fitzgerald, Mind for Business

My question to you – should you build in diary time for networking?

 

Paul Green is a local businessman and advisor to small business owners since 2003. He is an author, has featured as a guest blogger and writer in magazines and recently became a Sage Business Expert. As well as being accredited by the Institute for Independent Business, since August 2012 he has successfully grown NN coNNect to be a supportive community of local businesses where the emphasis is on business growth.

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