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The Benefits of Networking

 When I first set up my business I knew to make it a success I needed to meet local businesses and network – as the saying goes it’s not what you know it’s who you know.  However I was only aware of breakfast meetings, and being a single mum these were not something I was able to attend.  Then I found WIBN, and I can honestly say it’s thanks to WIBN that I am where I am today – not just professionally, but personally too.

When I first moved to Flitch Green I didn’t know anyone.  Through WIBN I have not only met clients and suppliers, but also people I now class as good friends.  Other than meeting other mums at school, the only people I know in the area are those I have met through networking, or through the effects of networking.WIBN Bishops Stortford Meeting

Making connections and building relationships with other businesses are solid foundations in making your business a success.  It is really important to build these relationships, and dedicate time and energy to help these relationships flourish.  Networking can be a slow process, and you may not see results overnight.  However with a strong solid relationship comes medium to long-term gains. 

A personal recommendation or referral is so much stronger than seeing an advert (although these do work too), and I know I’m more likely to use a business if someone has recommended them to me.

Networking is also a great way of finding the suppliers you need for your business.  Through networking I have found a great printer, designer, website designer, copy writer and travel agent just to name a few, I recommend these ladies regularly and clients and friends now use some of them too.

I have also found benefits in other ways.  The WIBN group I attend is so supportive, and I know that I can talk through problems with them, and being in similar situations themselves they are able to offer advice, and support me through any problems I may have.  We’re able to sympathise with each other, and have built a strong friendship to feel comfortable supporting each other etc.

WIBN Bishops Stortford Meeting

I have also found my confidence has grown so much.  I remember my first ever networking meeting, I was so nervous I have no idea who was actually at the meeting.  I sat there panicking about my own minute presentation I didn’t listen to anyone else’s, and I was so shy I barely spoke other than my 60 seconds – where I felt I went bright red and didn’t get across my business very well!  Fast forward 2 years and I now feel quite confident speaking, and even OFFER to do the 10 minute spotlight presentations – and look forward to the opportunity!  Such a change, and one I am quite proud of.  If you’d have told me this 2 years ago I’d have never believed it.

Not every networking event works for everyone – we’d be pretty boring if we all did the same.  There are many events out there, so try a few before deciding on which one works for you and your business.

I am a member of the Bishop’s Stortford group of WIBN, and will shortly be renewing for my 3rd year.  The ladies in the group are very friendly, and something that people comment on a lot when they visit us (another thing I’m proud of!).  If you’d like to come along and see what it’s all about we meet the first Wednesday of every month at The Coach and Horses in Bishop’s Stortford from 12 – 2pm – have a look at our Facebook page for more information.  And I’ve got to say, the food is delicious!

For more information about WIBN and other groups please visit www.wibn.co.uk

My top tips for networking:

  1.  Try a variety of groups and formats to see which suits you and your business best before joining.
  2. Get there early and ‘work the room’ – informal chats before the formal part starts are great for getting to know people
  3. Don’t expect to come away with business immediately, build relationships and everything else will follow
  4. Prepare your pitch, and practice before hand
  5. Share your passion for your business, concentrate on how you help people and why they need you rather than the hard sell.
  6. Follow up – arrange 121’s with others from the group, get to know them professionally and personally
WIBN Bishops Stortford

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