Category Archives: Networking

Evaluating The Success Of Your Networking Over 2018

Category : Blogs , Networking

Well, where has 2018 gone! It seems like only yesterday we were talking about how to create a solid networking strategy for 2018, where to focus your efforts and how to make the most of your time. And now, with less than a month left of the year, it’s time to look back and see how well that strategy worked out for you, and think about what you might do differently next year. To help you out, here are a few tips for measuring how successful your networking has been, and what you could change for next year.

 

Know What To Measure

First things first – what do you use to measure the success of networking? After all, it’s a bit of a nebulous thing, not very easy to quantify. But there are a few things you can track to give you an idea of how well things have been going, and how much of a return you’ve been getting from each group:

  • Number Of Activities Vs Number Of Sales: How many sales have you made from each networking group? This should be not just the people in the group who have bought from you, but anyone they have referred to you, and anyone those referrals have in turn referred (and so on and so on).

 

  • Number Of Activities Vs Number Of Referrals: This is slightly different to the above, because it covers all the things that were referred to you, but didn’t convert into sales. This helps you gauge how valuable the connections you’re making are. If your referral level is low, it might be time to re-evaluate your networking groups and activities.
  • Number Of Referrals Converting To Sales: Now take a look at that list of referrals, and work out how many of them actually converted into sales. This shows you the quality of the referrals you’re receiving from each group. If the referral rate is high but the conversion rate is low, then either you’re doing something wrong, or the quality of referrals is bad.
  • Total Time Spent On Each Group: How much time do you spend on each networking activity? Be sure to include travel time, follow up and any prep-work you do, as well as the actual meeting time. You can then compare this to the return you’re getting from each group, and this will tell you if you’re getting any sort of ROI on your time.
  • Number Of Referrals Given In Each Group: Remember, networking is a two-way street, and works best when referrals are mutual. If you’re a good fit for the people in your network, you’ll be giving a decent number of referrals out and recommending them as well. If not, then it might not be the right group for you.

Remember The Added Value

Of course, it’s not all about the money! There are other kinds of value you can get out of networking groups. For example, a lot of members at 10-12 mention that they love the supportive and collaborative atmosphere at our meetings. Because we have breakout sessions to discuss business issues, along with in-meeting 1-2-1’s to get to know each other, the support and learning is often a key value indicator. So look at what you get from each group, both in terms of money, and of other, intangible benefits.

But Don’t Jump To Conclusions!

While it’s great to track and measure your networking, you need to avoid the temptation to expect immediate results from them. Networking is a slow burn marketing activity, and it takes time to build up the relationships and trust you need to really get a return. So you’re not looking for the results from just this month, or even this quarter – you’re looking for long-term trends. 12 months should give you enough data to get some pretty definitive answers around how well your networking is performing, but only if you look at the performance over the entire 12 months.

At 10-12, we believe that every marketing and networking effort you do as a business owner should bring you some benefit. Whether that’s added income, a sounding board for problems or just a network of people who will support you when things are hard. So when you look back at 2018, we hope you find a positive and fruitful year of networking. And if you would like to try a new group for the new year, we would love to have you visit. Just click here to book, and visit one of our groups in 2019. Until then, have a great Christmas and New Year!


Royal Networking

Royal Networking – Making The Most Of Ascot

It’s that time of year! The hats and fascinators come out and the nice dresses come out of retirement to celebrate Ascot races. People flock by the thousands to visit the races and enjoy a day of sunshine, food, betting and racing. But did you know that Ascot is also a fantastic opportunity for business owners just like you? Not just as an excuse for a day out, but as a genuine opportunity to network and grow your business? In honour of the Ascot races being held this month, we have a few suggestions you can use to make the most of it this year.

 Split The Cost Of a Trip With Your Network 

Ascot tickets can be expensive, especially if you want to go on your own. But one of the things we’ve seen members doing in the past is getting together as a group and splitting the cost of the trip. If you go to a regular networking group, this can be a great way to strengthen those connections and maybe even make some new ones. Put out the invitation to your group for an Ascot or Henley races experience, and together you will be able to get better rates than all of you individually. And because it’s a social event, you will end up getting to know everyone much better, improving the chances of doing business together.

Hold An Ascot Party

If you can’t make the actual races, or just don’t fancy being around all the people, you could use the event as an opportunity to host your own Ascot themed event. Plenty of networking groups will hold their own Ascot themed parties as a way of bringing together their members in a more social setting. In fact, we’re holding one ourselves this month on the 19th. Find yourself a venue (even if it’s your own living room), play the races on a screen and serve afternoon tea. Invite your guests to dress up and bet on the races. You could use this as an opportunity to fund- raise for a local charity and invite other local business owners to join in. Holding an Ascot party is a great way to get a group of business owners in a room, enjoying themselves and the races for less expense.

Booking A Box

Of course, if you’re looking to impress some prospects and sweeten up your network, you could always book an executive box or other hospitality experience at the races. At Royal Ascot, there are a lot of options available for you to really spoil your guests. From executive boxes to a seat in the royal enclosure, fine dining experiences and club membership options, Ascot is a perfect way to treat your best customers and suppliers. As well as saying thank you and giving them a great experience, you’re also hosting your own mini-networking event, giving everyone there the chance to meet new people and expand their business. It might cost you a bit to do, but it can ultimately be worth its weight in gold if you’ve got the network to back it up.

 

At the 10-12 business club, we’re celebrating Royal Ascot this year with our very own ‘day at the races. So if you can’t make the races, why not join us for a fun packed afternoon of informal networking. We will all be dressing in our finest Ascot outfits, watching the races on a wide-screen TV and even enjoying a mini-sweepstake on the winner. We’ll also be serving afternoon tea with a glass of Prosecco (because it wouldn’t be Ascot without it!). So come and join us at Bearwood Lakes Golf Club on the 19th of June at 12 pm, and enjoy an afternoon growing your business. For more information, or to book your ticket, just click here.


How Collaboration Can Strengthen Your Business

Category : Blogs , Networking

If you run a small business, you probably already know that it can be lonely sometimes. Isolating, even. Working by yourself has a lot of upsides, but there are downsides too. Luckily, there are some simple, easy ways to combat those downsides, that will not only provide you with companionship, but also a boost in productivity for your business too. Collaboration is proving key to the success of many businesses across the UK, and it could help strengthen your business too. If you’re not sure how, we have 4 reasons for you:

Encourage Innovation

 

Collaboration opens up a wide new range of possibilities for businesses looking to innovate. By working with other business owners, you can discover new ideas, see new ways of solving problems and develop solutions that put you head and shoulders above the competition. It can also be a proving ground for trying new ideas that you perhaps wouldn’t feel confident trying out otherwise. It’s important to take measured risks in business, and collaboration allows space for that to happen. Collaborative working can also open up new ways of thinking, enabling further opportunities and new directions to take in the future.

 

Increase Productivity

 

Working collaboratively can do wonders for the productivity levels of you, and others you’re working with. If you’re working with colleagues, team building or group participation tasks can help identify common goals and build a healthy competition and rapport. If you’re working on your own, then getting together to talk and work collaboratively with other like-minded business owners can leave you feeling energised and ready to get good work done. And by bringing together left and right-brained thinkers, you will be able to come up with new and exciting solutions to your problems, powering you forward.

  

Provides Positive Change

 

Making big changes to the way you operate can be uncomfortable. You have to be willing to disrupt yourself, to change up old patterns and try something new to move forward as a business. Change can make your work processes more efficient, save you money and time, and even improve your own outlook on your work. Collaborating with others will help you do all of this, and better – it will make you excited to do it.

 

Create Partnerships

 

Collaboration also allows you to take advantage of the expertise of others. Working collaboratively means that all parties involved can capitalise on the skills and resources of other people. Cross-skills learning is particularly fruitful in the same way. It helps you to have a broader understanding of other practices and areas of business that you aren’t familiar with, helping build the overall strength of your business. It can even open up the possibility of forming potential partnerships that could bolster your offerings and provide more value to your customers.

 

At 10-12, collaboration is what we’re all about. That’s why our meetings are structured to provide not only networking, but education and the chance for collaboration through presentations and 1-2-1’s during the meeting. And we love seeing our members work and collaborate together on new and exciting projects. For more information, or to get in on the action, just get in touch with the team or book your visit today.


10-to-12-business-club presentations

Preparing A Killer Pitch

A lot of things can happen in 60 seconds:

250 babies are born around the world, 1.8 million ‘likes’ are made on Facebook and Americans eat 21,000 slices of pizza. But what can you do in 60 seconds?

In networking circles, you have between 40 and 60 seconds to pitch your business to a room full of potential collaborators, sales people and customers. So what you say in that pitch is really important. Which is why it kills us to see people waste their time with something thrown together at the last minute. So this month, we have a few tips to help you put together a killer pitch for your next networking event.

Actually Prepare!

We see this all too often – people will book on to networking weeks in advance, but when they turn up on the day they make up their pitch on the fly. Now, some people are very good at this – just standing up and speaking about their business in a way that both explains what they do and convinces people to talk to them, in the space of 40 seconds. But more often than not, it’s obvious that they haven’t prepared. So our first tip is simply to actually prepare! You only need spend 5 minutes thinking about what you’re going to say and putting it on paper, and the impact on your pitch will be incredible. Some of our members even prepare them in bulk – sitting down for half an hour at the beginning of each month and writing out a range of pitches, so that if they can’t write a new pitch the day before the event, they can just pull out a pre-prepared one instead.

Focus On Value 

Odds are unless you do something truly, spectacularly unique, most people in the room will at least have a vague knowledge of what you do. So instead of reeling off a laundry list of your services, focus on telling them room how you add value to your customers. What do you do that makes you better than your competitors, and keeps your customers coming back to you time and time again? This gives them all the information they need to go out into the world and sell your business on your behalf, and is a great talking point for those who want to find out even more about what you do. In a world full of commodities, everything is about added value – so what’s yours?

Tell Stories

People connect with stories. They do not connect with lists of services, followed by ‘if I can help let me know’. If you’re in a crowded room full of businesses all pitching, you want to make sure you stand out. And you can do that by telling them a story that will make them remember you. It can be a real story of how you helped a customer, your spin on something you read in the news or even a made up scenario to illustrate a point. But the human brain is designed to lap up stories, and some of the best business pitches are ones that don’t sell, but tell.

Be Specific

If you’re a member at a regular networking event, then after a while everyone is going to know what you do. So instead of just repeating yourself every time, you should alter your pitch so that you can see some benefits. Before each meeting, pick one of your current prospects. Someone you’ve been struggling to get hold of, or who you would just love the opportunity to talk to. Then ask for an introduction to that person in your pitch! It’s not always about the people in the room, but about their own networks and connections as well. Specific pitches are much more likely to result in action, and you never know who knows the person you’re looking for. Honestly, if we had a pound for every time a specific pitch had been met with ‘He’s my next door neighbour!’ we’d be rich. In fact, I attended a networking event just last week where a man asked to speak to a specific woman within an organisation by name. In response, another man in the room stood up and said ‘Yeah, I can introduce you to her. She’s my wife!’.

If you would like to get some more advice about pitching to a room, or would like to try out your new pitching skills on a lovely group of supportive women, then we can help you. Just check out our meetings schedule and come along to one that suits you, or get in touch with us today for more information.


women networking

Why Women’s Networking Works

Category : Blogs , Networking

This February has certainly been important for all the women out there. Not only has it been International Women’s Week, but the 6th of February marked 100 years since women won the right to vote. So in the spirit of women’s empowerment, we wanted to do a post all about women, networking, and women’s networking and why womens networking works!

The Value Of Networking

In today’s ever-growing digital world, customers are becoming more invested in the people they buy from. Gone are the days when the company name mattered – now it’s all about trusting and liking the people you work with. Trusted referrals are almost at the level of currency, and networking is how we build that trust. We asked Issy, 10-12 co-founder and owners of 2 successful businesses, why she thought networking was so important:

“Having worked for myself for over 20 years, the one thing that has always worked for my business is networking. Whether it is in a social or business format, meeting new people is always good for your business. You never know who that person knows or who they could introduce you to that might just help you grow your business. The 10-12 Business Club offers so much more as not every time you network will you gain a sale, so we introduced the breakout sessions, the presentations and the 1-2-1’s from these three interactions I always come away from every meeting having learned something. Each meeting always leaves me feeling highly motivated which is what any good networking event should do.”

You can find out more about Issy, and how she can help you grow your business (with networking, and with a great website) by clicking here.

Networking is now becoming a fundamental development and marketing exercise for many UK businesses. It is one of the single biggest driving forces behind SME growth and has already helped millions of people learn, grow and improve beyond what they could achieve alone. In short, We could rabbit on forever about the benefits, so instead why not just read this blog here.

But Why Only Women?

Now, there are a few different schools of thought on this one, so bear with us. There are some people who believe that women’s only groups are exclusionary by nature and that it is an affront to men’s rights to be included. And on paper, they are absolutely right. But the fact is, women’s spent years being excluded from the world of business, and we have been fighting to level the playing field ever since. And while women’s rights and equality have come a long way, the lack of female representatives at C-suite level just goes to prove the fact that the business world can still be a bit of a boys club. Even now, many mixed networking groups are still dominated by men, which can be incredibly intimidating as a woman starting out in business. It could even affect your confidence and your growth. So women’s networking was created. To give women everywhere a safe space to learn, collaborate and grow their businesses. A place where they can share the common and unique difficulties women’s face in business, and empower each other to succeed without judgment. We’ve talked before about the birth of women’s networking in our blog, here. In fact, Lauren MacPhail, one of the biggest advocates of women-only networking, said of women’s only groups:

 “[women’s groups] allow those new to the industry to meet women in leadership and find mentors to guide them as well as finding new business and partnership opportunities. They help everyone grow.”

At 10-12, we believe in creating these supportive, nurturing environments for all women business owners and future leaders. That’s why we’ve set up our meetings across the South, in the format that we have. So instead of ‘just’ networking, our members can benefit from brainstorming sessions, training and workshops during the meetings, as well as your ordinary networking time. To find out more, or experience it yourself, just click here to arrange your visit. Come give it a try, we know that womens networking works, it just does.


network hot seating

Network Hot Seating – The How, What And Why

Category : Blogs , Networking

Network Hot Seating may sound like a dangerous activity but it can actually be very rewarding for you and your business! However, it’s often an activity that few people know about or understand the power of it when you are a member of a networking group.

Network Hot Seating should be the ideal solution for busy business owners that can’t make their usual monthly meetings, whether that’s due to family commitments or extra workload. Often members will simply choose not to visit their group, which is fine but if several members of the same group choose to take the same approach the regular busy groups are diminished with lower than normal attendees. This could mean that meetings between July and September have low numbers, which is quite disappointing for everyone. But instead of holding tiny meetings or cancelling, there is a process in place that means you can enjoy the benefits of your membership without having to leave the poolside. It’s called Network hot seating.

What Is Network Hot Seating? 

Network Hot seating is a really simple concept. If a member discovers she can’t make it to her normal meeting for any reason (life happens, business gets busy, the list of reasons goes on), then she can send a hot seat in her place. This hot seat acts as your substitute in the meeting, reading out your 60 second pitch and any other information you supply them with. In return, your hot seater gets to visit the meeting free of charge, network, participate in the workshops and read out their own 60-second pitch. That’s all there is to it.

 What Do Members Get Out Of It? 

For members, network hot seating is a great way to get value out of your membership, even when you can’t be there in person. Rather than sending an apology and not being represented at all, a hot seater will be able to remind the group of what you do, what value you offer and who you are looking to connect with. This means that, while you miss out on the extra bits of the meeting, you are still visible to the members in the room. Network Hot Seating is also a great way to visit other groups and meet members there while ensuring that the member you’re hot seating for is still represented. So if you want to visit another group, find out if there is a member there who needs a hot seat, and fill it. Similarly, other members can hot seat for you, giving everyone the chance to visit other groups and get the most out of their membership.

Don’t Forget Your Visitor

Of course, the person you ask to hot seat for you gets some great benefits too. They are invited warmly into a room full of business women eager to meet them, and get to experience networking at its best. Our members are always looking for new people to help out, so hot seaters in the room are a fantastic opportunity for both the members and the visitors. You can invite another member from a different meeting to come and hot seat for you, but to get the best for your visitor, you should try and choose someone who has never experienced 10-12 before. This means they can visit the group at no cost to them, see the benefits and potentially join up, all without any pressure or obligation.

So How Do I Arrange A Hot Seat?

If you know you can’t be at a meeting, or you want to visit another group that meets on the same day, arranging a hot seat is a simple process. All you need to do is reach out to your network and find someone who would like to come along to substitute for you on the day. Hot seating is free, as they are taking up your place, so it’s not too hard to find someone interested in free networking! Once you have someone to come along, just get in touch with your meeting leader and let them know. That’s it!

At 10-12 Business Club we believe that to get the most out of a networking group, you need to be present at every single meeting. But we do understand that sometimes business, or life, gets in the way, and it’s not possible to make everyone. By providing a hot seat to take your place, you are ensuring that your business is still in everyone’s minds, so you can get the benefit even if you aren’t there. You are also giving back to your hot seater, who will be able to see the benefits of 10-12 first hand. So hopefully we will see some more hot seating and new faces in the months to come! For more information, or to let us know about a potential hot seater, just get in touch.


Our Top Networking Tips

Our Top Networking Tips

Networking can be tough, especially if you’re the new one in the group. When you first step into a room full of complete strangers, all chatting and laughing like they are old friends (which some of them are), it can feel hugely intimidating. But networking is an essential part of small and medium business life and it can do so much good for your business, your growth and you as a business owner (it can be awfully lonely otherwise). But how do you make the most of your networking time? We have a few tips for you.

Show Interest In Others 

This should be your first and golden rule, but so many people break it. There are always the boring people who talk about themselves non-stop, or their own challenges and worries. Those types of people get nowhere in networking. Yes, if someone asks you about something you should respond, but the real value comes in showing an interest in others, rather than talking about yourself and your business for the whole event. It makes people feel valued like you are listening and endears them more to you as a person.

Be Specific

If you are in an event where you can stand up and offer a 40, 50 or 60-second pitch to the room, make sure you are specific. So if you’re looking to speak to a certain company, try and find out who it is you would be dealing with and mention them by name. You should also be specific about your reasons for wanting to speak with them, and what value you would offer. This helps everyone else in the room be on the lookout for the right person and introduce you in the right way – which is more likely to result in being referred. 

Be A Giver And Help People (If You Can) 

If someone drops their business cards or a stack of paperwork, be the first to offer them help. If a newcomer is looking lost, make sure you approach them, welcome them and make them feel comfortable within the room. Be a giver within and outside the room, as that generosity will often come back to you 10-fold. Showing basic courtesy and offering help, support and guidance is likely to help cement your relationships with the people in the room, which is ultimately what leads to more business. 

Dress Well

We don’t mean you have to dress up in your Sunday best or in black tie, but just take a second to choose your outfit for networking and show that you care about what you look like. Ask yourself ‘would I like to meet me looking like that?’ It’s not just about clothes either – make sure your personal grooming is up to scratch and your body odours are under control. Reflect the personality of your business in the way you dress, creative people can get away with more informal dress code than that of a solicitor.

 Don’t Just Hand Out Cards

There is nothing worse than watching someone rush around the room, pressing their business cards into everyone’s hand and then walking right out the door again. You should only hand out your card to someone who you have had a meaningful conversation with, preferably after they have asked you for it. Simply throwing your cards at people sends out a really bad message about you, it shows you are more interested in quantity than quality.  Cards given to people you have an in-depth conversation are more likely to be used than those sprayed around a room.

Be A Good Conversation Starter

Conversations are hard to start, so make sure you have some basic ideas in your back pocket if you start to struggle. Keep up with recent news and try to find something better than ‘nice weather’ as your go to. One of our favourites is to always aim to have an interesting fact available. That way you can start a conversation with ‘I didn’t realise this, but did you know…’ This not only gives you a conversation starter but leaves the person glad to have met you. If you are really stuck then read our 4 Ways to break the ice at Networking events for some inspiration.

Listen More Than You Talk

Have you noticed that listen is an anagram of silent? When you’re talking to another person or group of people at a networking event, make sure you are listening to what they have to say. We’ve seen so many networkers who are only ever looking over the shoulder of who they are talking to rather than actually paying attention. It’s horrible to see and even worse to experience. Make sure you give the person you are talking to your full attention, button your lip and be a good listener – you will get much more respect for it!

Make a Commitment and stick to it

Structured networking events normally come with a membership of a year or less and require a commitment to attend on a weekly or monthly basis.  If you join one of these groups, make sure you clear your diary for those monthly or weekly meetings and stick to them. Your investment will be totally wasted if you just turn up occasionally, lack of attendance can show that you are not committed to growing your business, even if its because you are so busy. Groups often allow you to send a hot seat so if this is the case, get a list of “hot-seat” fellow business owners, plan your diary in advance and make sure you always show up or send a replacement.

Want to try out some of these tips for yourself? Come and join us at one of our monthly networking events, meet our members and promote your business. For more information, get in touch or book here.


Networking

4 Ways To Break The Ice At Networking Events

Category : Blogs , Networking

If you’ve never been to a networking event before, it can be a daunting if not downright scary process. Stepping into a room full of chattering business people, it’s easy for your mind to go blank and not be sure what to say. It’s happened to all of us at some point or another – I even forgot what I did the first time I walked into an event! But while it does get much easier as time goes on and you network more, it can be difficult to get past that initial barrier. To give you a helping hand and ease you into networking, here are our 4 best icebreakers to get the conversation flowing and help you feel more relaxed.

Hi, I’m X

It sounds so simple it’s stupid, but it honestly works. Everyone at a networking meeting has been the ‘new person’ before, and you might even run into a few other first timers while you’re there. A smile, a name and a confident handshake can sometimes go a long way, and if you’re not sure what to do next, let the other person guide the conversation. Mentioning that it’s your first time is also a good tactic, as the other person will immediately start looking around the room for people to introduce you to and support you in starting conversations with them.

 What Do You Do? 

If you’re not quite ready to talk about yourself yet, your best bet is to get someone talking about themselves instead. Luckily this is very easy – human beings take very little prompting and are often happiest when talking about themselves. That’s not meant to sound derogatory, it’s just the way our minds work. So you can start out by asking someone what they do, paying them a compliment (I love your hair/shoes/watch, etc) or by asking them about something you have overheard them saying. For example, if you have been pouring yourself a coffee and overhear someone talking about their volunteer work, you can ask that person what volunteer work it is that they do. This is a safe approach that will often initiate a back and forth of questions that’s just like any other conversation, without all the intimidating ‘networky’ bits.

Do You Have Any Insights About X?

If you’re really struggling to find things to talk about, asking someone for their advice or opinion is a great way to break the tension and start a meaningful conversation. Asking people to share their expertise in order to help you will make them feel good, and encourage them to be open to connecting with you. You can ask them about anything, from work projects to what car you should buy next. Just make sure that you actually listen to and reflect on their advice, and don’t just respond with something vague – this will defeat the point of asking the question.

What Did You Think Of The Speaker?

For any networking event with a guest speaker or even a spotlight on a member, this question is a sure fire conversation starter. Conversations tend to flow best around shared experiences, so bringing up something that you know you both have in common is a great start. If there has been no speaker, try and pick something else noteworthy in the event to talk about. Some common ones would be:

  • A certain person’s 60 second pitch
  • The theme of the group discussion
  • The format of the meeting
  • The food

Of course, there are thousands of icebreakers out there, and most of them will work in a networking setting. However, there are certain areas it’s best to avoid in a professional meeting. Divisive topics like politics will often be met with either cold disinterest and boredom or passionate zeal – neither of which are great within a networking group. TV and movies is also one that, while it might prompt a passing conversation, tends to peter out quite quickly and can result in an awkward silence if the person you’re talking to hasn’t seen the show.
The important thing to remember about your first networking event is that everyone has been where you are, and everyone knows how scary it is. Most people will be kind, friendly and open to conversation, otherwise they wouldn’t be at the event in the first place! All you really need to do is smile and be open, and the networking will happen by itself. Just remember to prepare yourself for those icebreakers and you should enjoy your time at the event. Introduce yourself to the host and tell them if it is your first time, they will understand and happily introduce to a member of the group. For more advice, or to dip your toe into the networking water with a group of lovely supportive women, get in touch with us today.


relay runner

How To Network Like An Athlete

Category : Blogs , Networking

Could you learn how to Network like an athlete?

It’s that time again, the 4-year point where everyone breaks out the flags and cheers their country on in the Olympic games. This year the games have headed to the stunningly colorful Rio. With many business owners taking time out of their day to watch the games.  Are you glued to the TV at the moment? Or maybe scanning the news to see how many medals Great Britain has won?

As business owners, we can’t help but admire the athletes, and not just for their outstanding performances and resilience. The commitment these men and women have shown to their goal of getting to (and winning) the Olympics is just staggering. Which has got us thinking – do you have the same commitment to your business success? How about your networking success? How could watching the Olympic athletes compete teach us how to network our business successfully?

Have A Clear Goal

Ask a pro athlete what their goal is, and they will always have an answer. It might be to move up to the next league, or to win gold at the Olympics. The point is they won’t even have to think about the question – the goal is clearly imprinted in their mind. Every action is designed to bring them closer to that goal. We have lost track of the number of people who have come to us saying that they didn’t see any results out of networking! Yet when we ask them what their goal was, they couldn’t precisely tell us.

Now you may get lucky a few times, but networking without a plan is a lot like trying to fish without bait. Your rod and line might be there, but no one understands what you want. The next time you go networking, have a specific goal in mind. Maybe you’re looking for a job, trying to connect with a certain kind of person. Or perhaps you want to get advice on how to handle a difficult situation. Having a goal in mind not only helps break the ice but encourages follow-up discussion and opens up a discussion.

female runners preapring

Preparation

Olympic athletes don’t just prepare for a few months in advance of the competition. They may up the pace and intensity of their training around this time, but in reality, they are training every day of the year, preparing themselves to tackle their goal. A pro athlete will never walk into a competition without having prepared thoroughly first. This is where a lot of business owners could learn a thing or two. Preparing for a networking event isn’t just getting some freshly printed business cards and turning up on time. If you can, look up in advance who will be there and choose who you want to speak to. If there is a speaker, do some research and have a few questions ready to ask. When you do your homework you can skip the small talk and get right into the meaningful conversations you are looking for, saving everyone time and making you look professional.

If you can, look up in advance who will be there and choose who you want to speak to. If there is a speaker, do some research and have a few questions ready to ask. When you do your homework you can skip the small talk and get right into the meaningful conversations you are looking for, saving everyone time and making you look professional. Make sure you check out the host’s website so you know the format of the meeting and the timings of the event. Structured networking, in particular, will only work if you are on time and stay until the end, that’s when you can make the right connections.

Performance

Professional athletes are under pressure to perform perfectly at all times. Sometimes they don’t manage it – everyone has off days – but most of the time they perform to the best of their ability. If you are networking, you should be thinking about this. If you go to a group regularly, you might get comfortable with the group, which can make you lazy in networking your business. Make sure that at every networking event you attend, you are presenting your business at its best and making the most of every conversation. Go out of your way to try to connect people and give as well as receive advice. If your performance and enthusiasm at networking events stays high, you are likely to see more results from it.

Never Give Up

swimmingIt’s silly to think that just because an athlete has reached the Olympics means they haven’t failed. Professional athletes get to the level they are by training, preparing and, perhaps most importantly, failing. Experimenting with new approaches and failing helps them to understand their limitations and how to perform better next time.

We often see failure as a very negative thing, but in reality it simply means you are on the stepping stones to success. As a business owner, there will be times when you fail – especially when it comes to networking. You may dedicate your time to a group and see no return, upset someone within the group or simply say something stupid without thinking (we’ve all been there).

The important thing to remember is that no one ever succeeded without failing a few times first. So if you go to your very first networking event and don’t work up the courage to speak to anyone, don’t worry. Just try again, and soon you will find yourself chatting away like a natural.

If you’ve never networked before – don’t panic! It’s often easier to start out with smaller groups, as these tend to be very friendly and understanding to newcomers, as opposed to bigger events that can feel a touch impersonal. If you are a woman interested in networking for the first time, or just looking to try out a new group, you can arrange to visit 10-12 at one of our meetings here, or to see the format of our meetings (to help you prepare in advance!) click here.


Business Network meeting

The Birth Of Women’s Networking

Category : Blogs , Networking

Ascot Networking for womenWe’ll give you a pre-warning here, this post is all about women’s only networking – sorry fellas! Women’s only networking groups have been springing up all over the place in recent years, so we wanted to take a closer look at why that is, and what makes a women’s networking group different to mixed gender networking. For some women’s networking already has a bad reputation – it’s just a bunch of women all getting together to chat isn’t it? But often these people haven’t actually set foot in a women’s networking group, or have had a bad experience with an individual group (hey, it can happen to anyone). But these meetings aren’t the oestrogen fuelled gab-fests some seem to think they are. Women’s networking holds the same goals as mixed and men’s groups – to forge relationships and generate business. So what inspired women to start setting up their own networking events?

Timing Is Everything when Networking

As with most things in life, timing is everything. One of the main reasons women’s networking groups were created was to help women in business to juggle their home life and their work life without feeling like they were missing out. Many high powered, effective networking groups take place very early in the morning before the work day starts. In theory this is a great idea, it means you can get the benefits of networking without taking a chunk out of the working day, but it comes with it’s disadvantages.

Generally speaking, (and we mean generally!) the tasks of a woman in the morning and a man in the morning aren’t that different until they have a family. Then you can have mums getting kids up and dressed, fed and delivered to school all before rolling up to work to start their day. That doesn’t leave much time for networking. There are now a few networking groups who meet during the morning, usually between 9 and 12, and these have proven to be very successful, especially with women. Being able to network later in the day means there is no pressure to try and be superwoman in the mornings, instead being able to fit networking into the routine rather than the other way around. That’s why you will see most women’s only networking groups starting at around 10am instead of 6.30am.kids school run work

Women Network Differently

This is a somewhat controversial comment, but it’s something we believe completely. Women do network in a different way and we should be proud of it. Women network in a women’s way and that doesn’t always fit that well within the more traditional networking formats. Women started setting up their own networking groups because they felt that the groups they were attending didn’t suit their style or meet their needs, and once they started they found that many women felt the same way and joined in. We’ve found (generalising hugely once again) that women tend to have a more relationship focussed approach to networking, which will involve getting to know their fellow members in depth, inspiring them to find a suitable way to do this.

We know that opinions differ wildly on this subject (and we would love to hear yours in the comments below) but there is a certain whiff of testosterone and competition that can be present at mixed networking events and this doesn’t suit everyone, in fact some people downright hate the competitive approach to networking. But for some people that approach works and the competitive nature allows them to thrive. Men shouldn’t have to change their preferred style of networking, and women shouldn’t feel they have to behave like men in order to get the best out of the group. So instead, women are able to network in an environment more suited to their style.

Mixed or Women Only Networking

Business Network meetingTo reiterate here – we aren’t saying that one approach to networking is better than the other. Your ability to network effectively depends on your personality and your skills, not your gender. Women network differently to men and that’s something we should embrace and be proud of.  Ultimately it’s important to remember that networking and promoting your business are very personal things, so it’s important to find a method that suits you. For some that’s finding a mixed group that they feel comfortable with, for some it’s finding the right mix between formal and informal and for others it’s finding an all female environment they enjoy. If you find mixed groups work well for you, that’s great! But if you find your preferences sway towards a women’s only group, the option is always there. And if you want to give women’s networking a try for yourself, you can always come along and visit one of our groups