In my line of work, I am lucky enough to meet entrepreneurs and business managers - the vast majority of whom are burning the candle at both ends to keep their business growing.
The idea of taking a few hours out for networking events, especially general ones which are not industry specific, is anathema. They just don’t see it as relevant or a business priority.
But it should be. Networking IS an essential part of any manager’s activity.
It can be daunting, stepping in to a room of strangers and standing up to introduce yourself, but do you know what? You get the chance to hone your business “elevator pitch” - being able to sum up in a minute what your business is all about. You hear things that make you better in business by learning from others’ successes, and failures. You get to meet people who are just like you – working hard to make your business a success. You get to meet people who are useful.
Take yesterday’s Chamber breakfast at the beautiful Chicheley Hall: I met some fabulous people – all passionate about their own line of work, and all interested in others’ businesses. Within two hours of the breakfast, my phone rang from one of the contacts I made - we’re meeting for coffee. It may not lead anywhere, or it might just.
And that’s what is important: developing a spider’s web of contacts. In the great scheme of things, it’s probable that someone you meet will know someone you ought to meet. This is particularly true of small or startup companies, who are probably the least time rich, but who really should do more networking not less, especially if it is businesses in their local environs that are the target audience.
Put New Year resolutions aside and set networking as a business objective instead. Treat it like an investment in your business. Set aside a few hours a month to network. You never know where it might take you.
Have a successful 2019, whatever line of business you are in!