Why network?

You may have heard of networking but if not it’s the way the world works nowadays. We all ask other people for recommendations, on Amazon, Trip Advisor etc and it’s the same with businesses. We all want to know who to trust. The best way to make yourself known to others is to go to business networking meetings.

Now it might sound like a scary prospect but I promise you most networking groups are filled with friendly, helpful and supportive people.

What can networking do for my business?

Lots! From providing you with new clients to somewhere to test out new business ideas, a safe place to practice your pitch (how you describe yourself and your business) to somewhere to find suppliers who can help you. You can find potential collaborators and make lifelong friends.

What types of network are there?

There are a wide range of different types of networking groups from a formal breakfast meeting to a coffee and a chat and everything in between. Some have paid memberships and other are free to attend. If you wanted to you could go for breakfast, then have a coffee, meet for lunch, for tea or for a curry in the evening. Some are mixed and some are for women only. There are even themed meetings such as “Murphy’s Networking Neighs” which is networking with horses.

Where can I find out more about groups local to me?

Google is a good place to look. Start by putting in business networking Kent (replace Kent with the location you want to search for) and see what comes up. There are likely to be several near you.

Some people have also put together online listings such as: www.simplenetworking.uk (mainly Kent based)

See what your local chamber of commerce does. There are Kent Invicta Chamber and Sevenoaks Chamber locally. There are also groups more aimed at Mums such as Sevenoaks Mums or Tunbridge Wells Mums in Business. Or try Women in Business West Kent or Mid Kent and there are lots of Ladies who Latte groups throughout Kent. Try searching on Google for any of these or similar groups.

What do I need to before my first meeting?

I suggest contacting the organizer to ask for more details – check date and time, location, parking, who is likely to be there, what is expected of you etc. Ensure you take some business cards and write down a few lines describing you and your business. Don’t forget cash to pay for the meeting or drinks etc

I’m nervous about going have you any tips?

Yes, go with a friend if you can but do ensure that you talk to other people. A good result from a networking meeting is 1 or 2 conversations with other people. Check to ensure you have everything I suggested above like business cards, cash etc.

Ask the person you are talking to about their business. Look on it as research. Arrange to follow up with a coffee afterwards to you can get to know each other better.

Think of it like going to meet a new group of potential friends. Who knows what opportunities lie ahead?