I’m delighted to announce that Imagine Digital Marketing is setting up a brand new networking group in Southwell – and all business owners are warmly invited.
You might wonder why I’ve decided to do this. Well, I’ve heard lots of people saying there’s a distinct lack of networking opportunities in Southwell, despite the area having lots of established and up and coming SMEs. I agree completely, so have decided to take the plunge and set up my own business networking group under the Imagine Digital Marketing banner.The Southwell Networking Club will officially launch on Thursday 1st November at 6pm, in The Barn function room at The Hearty Goodfellow on Church Street. After that, we’ll meet at the same time but at a few different venues locally on the first Thursday of every month. Places at the Launch Party (and future events) are limited, so please contact me now if you’d like to book.
What to expect if you come along to this new networking group
Well firstly, you’ll have the opportunity to meet and mingle with other local business owners. People like you, who share the same goals and aspirations, although everyone’s company will have its own unique offering. At the Launch Party, you’ll also find out what the Southwell Networking Club is all about and the format of future meetings.
The Club will be a mixed gathering with male and female business owners present. As a member of the Women in Business Network (WIBN), I fully appreciate the benefits of all-female networking. However, I also understand the advantages of men and women working together – and it can be interesting to observe their varying networking styles. So, everyone is very welcome to my new venture.
One thing that’s a little different about the Club is that it’s entirely not for profit. Yes, there are some great Clubs out there that operate as profit-making organisations. But I know from experience that some people are looking for an alternative approach. That’s why all the monies raised from business owners attending the Club will be donated to local charities or used to support local community projects.
I’ll tell you more about this at the Launch Party and also give you an idea of how much it will cost to be a member.
Quite simply, face to face networking is one of the most powerful ways to market your business. As noted above, it’s also a chance to meet like-minded business people. But it’s so much more than that!
Here are just a few good reasons you should start networking if you haven’t already:
- Once people get to know, like and trust you, they’ll give you leads and referrals, which could turn into sales. You’ll have the chance to reciprocate, too.
- You’ll widen your network of contacts. The all-important rule of ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ really does work. You’ll meet people whose services you can use and vice versa, and who can introduce you to valuable contacts you might not otherwise meet.
- Sharing advice, experience and expertise is an important part of networking, as we can all learn from our peers. Giving and receiving support can also be hugely beneficial.
- Getting out and about to networking meetings can be a big help in raising your business profile. People will start to recognise your company name – and even ask to be introduced to you.
- If you’re a little on the shy side, networking can be a fantastic way to boost your confidence. Walking into a room full of strangers can be nerve-wracking but rest assured, you’ll be made to feel welcome and at ease in no time at this new networking group in Southwell.
- Do you like helping others? Then networking is for you! Everyone has business problems to deal with from time to time, and you could reap genuine satisfaction from helping people solve them. It works both ways, of course!
- Last but not least, you could find you make some real, long-lasting friendships from business networking (as unlikely as it may sound). So, if you’re looking to expand your social network as well as your business one, give it a try.
10 top tips for effective networking
If you’re new to networking you might be wondering about etiquette and the ‘dos and don’ts’. Whilst Southwell Networking Club will have an informal approach with no hard and fast rules, there are things you can do to get the most from your experience. Here are my top 10 tips for effective networking.
- Be prepared. Before you set off for the meeting, think about what you want to get out of it. In particular, consider the other business types you’d like to meet, so you can ask for introductions if appropriate. And prepare an introductory patter about your business – especially if you’ll be giving an ‘elevator pitch’ to the room.
- Get there early. It’s only polite to be on time and it won’t look good if you trail in 15 minutes after everyone else. By getting to the meeting early, you can also maximise your networking opportunities and speak to as many people as possible.
- Dress appropriately. How you dress might depend on how formal the meeting is, or simply on the nature of your business. For example, if you’re a tradesperson, it’s fine to come along in your work clothes or uniform, provided these are clean and tidy. If you’re not sure, smart casual is a safe bet.
- Ask questions and listen. Make the people you’re talking to feel like you’re genuinely interested and value what they’re saying (which should be the case anyway!) Make eye contact, don’t interrupt and ask relevant questions. Whatever you do, don’t keep looking around the room for someone else to talk to.
- Introduce yourself. If you’d like to meet someone, go for it! Of course, you can ask for an introduction as noted above but it’s equally fine to take the initiative and just get on with it. As long as you’re not interrupting, of course. When you introduce yourself, do so with a firm handshake and make eye contact. Be friendly but professional.
- Talk to people standing alone. People who are new to networking can feel a little overwhelmed. So, help them out – go over and have a chat with them. Introduce yourself and then ask them to tell you about their business. Then involve other people in the conversation if you can.
- Move on politely. Networking’s all about meeting different people, so don’t stay with one person throughout the meeting, or talk to the same business owners at each event. Working the room is a skill, but it’s not difficult – just be polite when you move on and try not to leave people on their own.
- Stay off your phone! Don’t spend all your time on the phone at networking meetings. Not only is it rude and disrespectful, it also stops you getting the most from the event.
- Follow up promptly. If you’ve met people you think could be useful contacts, don’t forget to follow up with them afterwards – even if it’s just a quick email. Better still, arrange a follow-up meeting to discuss in depth how you could work together.
- Don’t expect too much, too soon. As I mentioned above, networking helps develop know, like and trust. But this takes time, so it’s not reasonable to expect leads and referrals at your very first meeting. It pays to persevere, so give people the chance to get to know you and understand your business.
Book your place at Southwell Networking Club today
I’d love to see you at the Launch Party, so get in touch now to book your place. You can call me on 01636 922 747 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As previously stated places are limited for the launch party so please book early to avoid disappointment. Hope to see you there!