The power of Networking.
You may have heard the word “networking” being thrown around and not really known what the sales reps and other employees are up to when they go “networking”.
But actually, statistics show that 85% of jobs are actually filled through networking and that 41% of professionals have expressed they want to network more frequently, but simply don’t have the free time to do so.
So first of all let’s start with what networking actually is…
The definition of networking is – interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. Although it does sound quite simple and you may think all you have to do is shake a few hands and exchange a few business cards, but this is wrong. Networking can be challenging and takes dedication, but the results you can achieve from it are long-lasting and rewarding on both a personal and business level.
So what happens at networking…
There are many different networking groups across the country, some with just a handful of members and some with hundreds of members. Therefore, somewhere out there is the perfect networking group that will help you flourish and grow successfully. Also, every group networks differently; from networking over breakfast, to enjoying a Rogan Josh at ‘curry clubs’, to evening networking and even formal balls. There is no wrong way of networking and everyone has a different aim, you just need to find yours.
However, traditional networking session starts with a group of individuals, from all different industries and professions who are practically strangers to each other stood in one room. Now believe me we do understand why this can be daunting for most people, but as the group grows, members start to bond and relax together and the huge advantages from networking begin to show. Now you may walk in to the room and be stood next to a builder, a dog groomer and a florist and think to yourself how these people can help me?
Well, let’s say you are working in the printing & marketing industry and the builder stood to your left has come to the networking event today in hope to advertise his business, you can help. The florist stood to your right is showing off her latest bouquet arrangements but explaining that her iPhone really doesn’t do her flowers justice, you can also help, with professional photography to enhance and bring out the best in her pictures.
Also, have you ever thought that the same florist you could supply photography too may have a huge advertising company as one of her main suppliers. Therefore, by building up this exact relationship can evidently lead to more future opportunities.
Evidently, a main factor in networking is being open to opportunities, sharing your resources and learning new skills and knowledge from individuals in a completely different industry to yourself. Not everybody’s aim at a networking event is to sell sell sell, talk about themselves all session and take away the most business cards to cold call later that day. Making genuine friends and letting people get to know you on a personal level is an important aspect of networking and can lead to real genuine recommendations in business. At the end of the day, the saying goes “It’s not WHAT you know, but WHO you know” which is very true in business.
To make this blog that little bit more relatable, we decided to sit down with our sales reps that regularly attend networking sessions. Jane Rojas is a BNI Vista member and attends her BNI Vista networking session every Tuesday morning, bright and early. As well as this, Ross attends BNI Infinity regularly every Friday morning. They both describe networking in three words; relationships, trust and vision and Ross goes with” Givers Always Gain”
Jane and Ross both agree that networking for them personally is the support they receive from what feels like an extended sales team and business partners. They both enjoy meeting a group of likeminded people that all want to help, as this gives them a sense of belonging and value.
Why you should start networking.
Our sales reps would encourage people to start networking to expand their reach, get recognised and enjoy the benefits of growing your business through recommendations. We all know that in business it is a great feeling being recommended by somebody, or even just receiving a positive review. These two things give us a sense of pride and achievement that our hard work is paying off, comparing this to networking, you are surrounded by a group of people that make it their mission to recommend you. Additionally, by regularly attending networking events this helps get your face known in the community, providing you with a great source of connections that can really open the door to talking to highly influential people in the future.
Still nervous about networking?
Here are our tips.
Still nervous about networking? Here are our tips.
- Always have an idea about how you are going to introduce yourself to people, know how to talk about your company and services confidently. Practise with employees, friends and family and gain advice from others to enable you to be more prepared and less nervous.
- Remember to have a supply of business cards easily to hand; this can be a great way of introducing yourself and an ice breaker for conversation.
- Remember no matter how successful or prestigious some members may be, they will always value and appreciate a new connection, and for most of them is why they are here. You could offer them genuine help on their next project, so never put yourself down.
- Finally enjoy it, make sure to smile and think positive about the whole experience
The power of networking
Networking is a great skill to have as an employee, by regularly attending events you’re likely to meet and come across some familiar faces. In time they will begin to recognise you and this allows you to build strong relationships over time. By pushing yourself to approach new people at a networking event and strike conversation with them can help build up your confidence. The more you do it, the more you’ll grow in confidence, which can be hugely beneficial within business and day to day life. In return this can make you a better business-minded person and feel more confident in making those connections with individuals you may need. Our sales reps explain that networking has given them a whole world of opportunities, connecting and building relationships with members from other networking chapter across the country and even the world, the power of networking is huge and connects likeminded business people all over the globe.
At Media Village we have made great connections with suppliers through BNI, we did not have a supplier that gave the level of customer service and at such reasonable oprice as Stitch-It. After building this relationship with Stitch-It we now sell a lot of branding clothing, also through the power of networking we came across our Food Stylist Sophie through BNi, we wouldnt be able to do Food Photography as succesfully as we do now without Sophie.
On a personal note for the sales reps, BNI is a great knowledge resource with fourty knowledgeable friends in the room every Friday, this means you always have good advice on hand no matter the question.
Futhermore, on a financial level Ross informs us that with a predicted revenue for the year at £17,000, twelve new customers for the business from just Ross’s group alone and with the membership only costing £1000 for the year, it is a no brainer whether networking helps the business financially.