I’m always inspired by the amazing business women in my WIBN groups, but at this time of year it feels like an extra blessing. It’s when members take time to thank each other for their business and their support, and it’s where you see the strength of genuine friendships which have formed over the year. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been misty eyed this month!!
As the year draws to a close, many of us will be reflecting on our businesses and planning for the year ahead. But how many of us will be stitching in our approach to networking as part of our business growth and marketing plans? To ensure networking works for us, it’s important to give it the same focus that you would give to any other marketing tool – assessing how successful it has been for your business and considering how you can make it work even more effectively in 2018.
When it comes to assessing the benefits of networking, there are some obvious and some not-so-obvious aspects to consider. These include:
- Business received: How much business you have you done as a direct, or indirect result of networking? Can you quantify it? Have you asked for a testimonial?
- Business leads: How many business leads have you made? How many of these are genuine prospects? How do you plan to follow them up in the new year? Who else do you need to get to know?
- Balance: Is the profile of the group a good fit for your business? Is there the right balance of professions? Who else could you invite as a visitor to add value to the group?
- Services: Whose services have you used from the group? Or have you been put in touch with other suppliers? How has this helped you? Have you written a testimonial for them?
- Connections: Who have you really connected with this year – even if business has not been exchanged? How has this helped you? Who have you not connected with, and why?
- Support: What support have you gained from the group? Does it feel like people are there to encourage you? Do you get support from other members outside the monthly/weekly meetings? How does that benefit you?
- Personal development: What have you learned, how have you improved? Has your confidence grown? Whose expertise would be valuable to you in the future?
- Giving back: What have you given back to the group? Have you done a business topic or a workshop? How did that help you, personally or in your business?
- Enjoyment: How much enjoyment have you had out of networking? It’s got to be fun hasn’t it? Do you look forward to going? Who could help you connect with more people in the group?
These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself to get a true picture of how networking is supporting you and your business. It can take time to build up those relationships, so don’t panic if you are not seeing immediate results. I’m always saying, you get out what you put in, so give as much value as you can, and you should soon start to see the benefits.
And if you have any concerns, or ideas for the future, I would always encourage speaking to your group leader. Feedback is really important to help shape your networking group – and the more proactive you are, the better networking will be!
You can read more about getting the most out of networking in my previous blog.