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How networking could energise you . . .

Business consultant Steve Elsom says you will get more out of networking with others if you put more into the whole experience.

It’s estimated that the average adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day – that’s a lot of judgement calls and “shall I, shan’t I ?” considerations.

Some business owners in and around my locality made ‘decisions’ this week around whether or not to attend a networking event . . . and I can imagine their thought process went something like this – “it’s not relevant to me”, “it doesn’t start until 6pm”, “what do I say to people who attend?”, “what’s the point?”, “I’m happy just doing what I’m doing”. That’s five of their 35,000 conscious decisions for the day, and it lead to a 6th. “I’ve decided not to attend the event.”

Now, networking isn’t everyone’s ‘cup of tea’. It can take us out of our comfort zone and expose some of our ‘frailties’, like confidence, conversation and commitment. But why wouldn’t a business owner want to have a platform to talk about their business, create new networks and grow in confidence? If we look at the reasons why not to attend above, let’s think about ‘the relevance’ of the event to the business owner.

These types of events are what you make of them. If you go with no agenda, no objective and no energy, guess what – it’ll be a waste of your time.

If you go with an agenda of who you would like to meet and an objective of what you would like to achieve, maybe a commitment to a future meeting or a telephone call, you’ll be energised and it will have been a good use of your time. Make it ‘relevant’ by practising how you would describe you and your business in ‘twenty three seconds’ and make a positive first impression. Make it ‘relevant’ by seeing who else is in the room and introducing yourself to them, using the host to facilitate that introduction if appropriate. That new contact might be a potential new client, or a potential new supplier. The options can be endless.

The timing of such events can sometimes be a barrier, but if you commit in advance, make sure that you make the time ‘work for you’. If you can only stay for half of the event, tell the host and ask that they hand your business card to some of the contacts that you hadn’t had the time to meet.

I often hear business owners saying that they are ‘happy doing what they are doing’ and I often respond by asking what would happen if they lost a key member of staff, a client or a supplier? What difference would it make to their business and their lifestyle?

Several conversations that I have had suggest that there is an expectation that we will see a return to the pre-pandemic trading environment. Put simply…that isn’t going to happen. Hybrid working, further changes in shopping habits, cost of living impacts and of course the global energy price crisis mean that the trading environment has changed.

Businesses have to be agile and respond to these changes and if attending a networking event is one such action, let that be one of your 35,000 conscious decisions of the day.


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Steve is a regular contributor to B2B publications, see some of his recent articles for insights into current business news, leadership and much more...