Industrial resolution: Do more networking
2016 was a good start for Bill Blogs but now we’re in that post holiday lull period when clients are thinking about anything but blogging, I need to ginger things up a bit.
Therefore, I’ve decided that more networking must be my primary resolution of 2017. That’s why I found myself on the first Friday of the year stamping my feet to keep warm outside a Petersfield petrol station at 6.30 am, waiting for my lift to take me to one of his own regular business breakfasts.
After a half-hour drive through a dark East Hampshire, I’d thawed out as we reached a rather grand hotel in Winchester for a meeting I’d seen advertised but hadn’t bothered with before.
I’m glad I went because it looked like I wasn’t the only one with the same ideas; the back room, laid for breakfast, soon filled up and I determined to “work the room” and getting out of my comfort zone.
Suggestions for successful networking
Some people feel awkward about the whole idea of networking but fortunately I quite like meeting people, especially when I can I tell 30 people what I wanted to tell them what an online copywriter in Petersfield does.
I’ve picked up a few tips over the last year, since I went to my first networking group, which I’d like to share:
Don’t be pushy when you’re networking
I prefer the meetings that aren’t too pushy. No one likes talking to a hard salesman, and I’m usually pleasantly surprised after a meeting by the number of people who want to take the conversation further, after just a general chat.
Be prepared with a pitch and a hook
That might seem at odds with my first point but I keep a few key facts in mind that I want to get across, starting with a simple hook to get them interested. There’s nothing worse than having a great conversation and realising afterwards you’ve forgotten to say what you do! Personally, I say I help businesses generate more leads through their website by supplying a regular stream of fresh online content to tempt visitors.
Listen as well as talk
It’s plain good manners not to hog a conversation and I always make sure to ask about the other person and listen to their answer. You don’t know what you might learn and people can tell if you’re not interested in them and they won’t want to talk to you again.
Work the room
This, for me, is the hard part. I’m too polite and I find it hard to break away from a person and meet others for fear of looking rude. I want to talk to as many new people as possible and sometimes I just suggest we both mingle for a while and meet up later. It usually works without causing offence.
I hate it when I sidle up to a group and get ignored, or when two networkers are in an intense conversation and give off clear “do not disturb” body language. It’s obvious when two people know each other and don’t want a newcomer getting involved, but what’s the use preaching to the converted at every meeting? So I make a point of not standing face to face with someone, making it easier for others to join a circle.
For the quickest way to meeting as many people as possible and dishing out a couple of dozen business cards, you really can’t beat a networking meeting. It’s got me a lot of work.
Resolution No.2 Buy no more booze in 2017 until we’ve got rid of this lot!
One referral leads to another. I’m afraid to turn down a chance to network these days because almost invariably I meet someone who’s interested in my services, even if they’re a fellow traveller to meet for some mutual support and a cuppa.
A new year and a new start
I’ve been bad as I got busier in 2016; networking was side lined for writing, but it’s easier to sell yourself when you’re busy, so I need to get out there more.
So I’m determined to spread my wings this year and see what lies beyond Butser Hill and the Meon Valley – new clients, new opportunities and, I hope, a decent breakfast and fresh coffee.