Sure, it’s daunting. You walk into that room and there are 40 people there, all chatting like they’ve known each other for years. You nervously introduce yourself to the person running the meeting, and you introduce yourself to people in the room, all the time wondering how you got into this situation. However, you find that you’re welcomed heartily. People seem genuinely interested in you, and what you have to say. After a while, you realise you’re amongst friends and colleagues. You’re networking.
I’ve been running my own copywriting business for 6 months now, and I’ve found networking to be my most effective way of winning clients. I’ve got jobs by applying for them online, I’ve used existing contacts, cold calling is working too. However, joining face-to-face networking groups, building relationships and winning referrals is what’s fuelling my business right now. I know it’s the same for other startups and solopreneurs, and it can be the same for you. Here are some of the benefits of networking.
Networking gets you business
Think about how you hire people to do jobs. Who would you rather hire? Someone you’ve found online, or someone that you’ve met in person, built a relationship with and trust to do a good job? Personal relationships trump advertising every time. Networking is an opportunity to be in a room with people who will need your services one day. Just by turning up once a month and giving valuable conversation, they will think of you when they need those services. If you do an amazing job, your reputation will grow. They’ll tell people they know, and it spirals from there.
The bottom line is networking brings in paying clients. I’ve made up the fee I paid to join the network many times over already, and I’ve only been involved for 4 months.
Networking builds relationships
When you meet people on a regular basis, you build a relationship with them. They become part of your network. When you join a networking group you’ll meet people who you wouldn’t normally meet, people in totally different professions. You’ll meet people who can help you, people you may want to hire. What’s more, you don’t know who they know. If you create value for people in your conversations. If you show them what sets you apart from your competition, your influence will grow, simply by word of mouth.
Your support network
When you go networking, you’ll meet people who have faced the same problems that you’re going through now, and they know how to overcome them. You’ll receive valuable advice, support and motivation. You’ll learn about areas of business you previously knew nothing about. The solutions to your problems will literally be staring you in the face. What’s more, you get to help other people, and there’s no better feeling than that. I know that I always leave every networking meeting I go to with a spring in my step, armed with new ideas I can implement straight away.
With networking, you get out what you put in. Don’t expect miracles to happen straight away. Your phone won’t be ringing off the hook with business after your first meeting. However, put in the effort and it will happen.
If you’re a startup or solopreneur, and would like to join a networking group in the SW London area (within easy reach of Clapham Junction), DM me to find out more.