The benefits of networking (part one)

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Networking. Those who love it will think of making great connections, meeting prospective clients and having fun; those who hate it will probably think of the dread of speaking in front of a group, sharp-suited business waffle and boredom.
All of these can be true, but there are almost as many different ways to network these days as there are types of people, so if you tend to be networking-averse, it’s worth doing a little bit of research to see if there’s a group that would fit you better and change your views.
But why should you? Well, there are a number of reasons why networking can do an awful lot to boost your business, not to mention your wellbeing.
Ever heard the phrase ‘people buy people first’? My column about independent shops is a good example of this: customers generally prefer to buy from a person they know rather than a faceless corporate giant. Your potential customers like to have a sense of relationship with you, and this can be achieved much quicker face to face than with any marketing plan.
It’s not all about meeting prospective customers though. There’s a wealth of knowledge in the room which you can access over coffee. Need a new accountant? Struggling with employment law? Wondering which is the best email client to use? There will be people who have been through it and who can point you in the right direction. Or maybe you’re considering a joint venture with another business that complements your own? Finding your ideal match is easier in a networking meeting than trawling the internet.
There is enormous support, camaraderie and connection as well as the chance to bounce ideas around and inspire each other, which is especially helpful for home workers. In my experience, networking events can be a cauldron in which magical business moments happen, if you put in the right ingredients. Next week, I’ll be giving some top networking tips. In the meantime, try www.findnetworkingevents.com to give you an idea of the possibilities that are out there.
What are YOUR experiences of networking? Got any tips to pass on?

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