“It’s true to say that business networking is about making contacts, not only with customers and clients”, says Granny Mouse Country House & Spa General Manager, Sean Granger. “It’s also a way to create connections with others which may at some point become turn into a business relationship,” he added.
Although many people associate networking with gaining something, that is not always the case. It’s really important to note it is about developing trusting relationships and, sometimes even lifetime friendships, with other like-minded folk in business.
Effective networking enables you to help each other, especially in these trying times during COVID which have effectively closed down many small businesses.
Admittedly, 2020 was really difficult to be able to interact with others, however, we are able to do so now, albeit with some social distancing rules in place. And bearing in mind, we don’t have tons of time to attend seminars and the like, so grabbing a coffee or catching up over a lunch helps you stay abreast of new developments and practices in your field.
Below are some networking guidelines that the Granny Mouse GM follows:
- Attend Business Networking Events – The first step in successful networking is knowing where you should go to make connections. Find out what events, even if online at the moment, are in your field, or in your area.
- Choose a goal – It’s hard to get what you want out of your networking endeavours if you don’t start with a clear goal.
- Get Social in your off hours – Just because you’re “off the clock” doesn’t mean it’s time to stop networking. After some conferences hosted at Granny Mouse, Sean Granger has seen delegates go on a mountain bike ride together after their “meet and greet” as well as outside on the Granny Mouse lawn, networking during a pilates class.
- Know your worth! – It’s not enough to provide your clients with a great product or service. If you can’t articulate what it is you do, then you can’t hope to convey that information at networking events.
- Identify conversational ice-breakers – If you want to overcome initial awkwardness and make a good first impression, consider opening with a compliment, or, similarly, asking a work related question which gives that person the chance to talk about themselves and what they do.
- Bring a buddy – Sometimes starting conversations with strangers is easier if you have a familiar face by your side. If you have a friend or co-worker who’s also looking to expand their network, consider attending professional events as a two-some.
- Overcome introversion – If you’re naturally shy, having success in networking can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are some strategies for overcoming introversion and making connections. First, consider brainstorming ice-breakers before a networking event, so you don’t have to come up with ideas on the spot. Second, feel free to take a breather if you get overwhelmed. Go to the restroom, take a walk, or grab a coffee.
- Find a reason to follow up – Making connections is only half the battle; you also have to take steps to keep the relationship going. Even if you aren’t currently job hunting, strive to reach out to your contacts a few times a year to follow up. You could forward a relevant article, invite them to a seminar or conference, or even just send a friendly note during the holidays.
- Don’t be negative – When searching for conversation starters, avoid speaking negatively about former companies or co-workers or what’s going on in the news – always try and find that “positive thought or topic”!
- Don’t be selfish – Whether you’re chatting at a chamber of commerce event or attending an informational meeting, it’s important to remember that networking is about give and take. If you’re always the person asking for favours, the relationship is unlikely to last.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want – We all need help now and again. If you want your networking efforts to be a success, you have to be bold enough to ask for assistance. Before attending that next meet up or seminar, make sure you can articulate what it is that you’re seeking and what you can offer in exchange! Both parties must mutually benefit.
So, when you’re at Granny Mouse for your next networking session or hosting a conference, by all means, use the above guidelines that suit you and help grow your business back up!