Be focussed: Tips on creating impact through networking #1

Tips on creating impact through networking from Simon Cox at The Apple Yard

Introduction

These are my ongoing tips for business networking from the 'Not Another Networking Group' in Derby, supporting the Me&Dee charity. Plus some thoughts on creativity and design.

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Networking is a funny beast - we all know instinctively that making contacts and building relationships can lead to future business.

However, it can bring out the cold sweats - the awkwardness of making small talk with strangers; standing in front of a crowd of people, fumbling for the right words; uncertainty as to whether it is a good use of time.

I am on a personal journey in this area, by nature tending to be more on the introverted side and finding it easier to express myself in words.

What follows are my thoughts and tips for making the most of networking and using it to drive my business - hopefully you will find it of benefit too.

Tips on creating impact through networking from Simon Cox at The Apple Yard

Be focussed

  • In the time I have attended the 'Not Another Networking Group', it has grown massively, moving from Las Iguanas in Derby town centre to The Farmhouse in Mackworth, and then upgrading to The Folly function room

  • Initially there were about 20 people, which made it easy to get round a good percentage of the room; have a meaningful chat; and remember who was who in order to follow up

  • Now the attendance list is pushing up to 50, which is great, as there is a wider pool of other like-minded business owners

  • However, the challenge of the larger group is that you can feel a bit lost and unsure of what to do faced with the overwhelming number of potential connections

Tips on creating impact through networking from Simon Cox at The Apple Yard

Find out who are the regulars

  • With networking there are two groups: those who make a commitment and attend regularly; and those who pop in once or sporadically

  • The regulars are generally those who are committed to building relationships for the long haul and have decided the values and feel of the group are a good fit

  • If you've got the choice of following up with someone in one of the two groups, I would focus on the regulars

  • There's more of a guarantee you'll see them again at the meeting, and so it's easier and more natural to follow up with them; at least, you've got a conversation starting point for next time

  • As above, since you have a good indication that they are aligned with the ethos of the group, if that ethos aligns with you too, you've got some good, initial shared ground to explore in a follow up conversation (tip: include coffee)

Tips on creating impact through networking from Simon Cox at The Apple Yard

Keep a list

  • One way to keep tabs in a more systematic way is to draw up a list. During the one-minute pitches, you can note down key info like name and industry

  • When Mark leads the group in connecting with nearby people via the LinkedIn app, you can cross-check your list and fill in the gaps

  • Over about three months, you'll quite quickly see who is investing in the group and those who have flown in and out

  • As above, unless you get a strong sixth sense about someone or an obvious way in, given the choice of picking from a big group of recent acquaintances and a core bunch of regulars, the latter would be my recommendation

Tips on creating impact through networking from Simon Cox at The Apple Yard

Using visuals to breakthrough a crowded market

Things got squeezed with all the great content, so here is the longer version of my short presentation.

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As independent business owners or those supporting small local Derby businesses, we often carry around some big marketing questions:

  • Who am I? (what makes me unique and different in what I offer)

  • Why am I here? (how can I best connect with my ideal audience)

The driving factor for this is because we want to make connections with other like-minded people, whether customers or other businesses

Good connections can lead to a couple of healthy outcomes, which are actually quite interconnected:

  • Winning business

  • Solving problems (whether they are your own or others')

The problem with making connections is that there is a crowded marketplace out there, so how do you break through the noise with clarity and impact?

In Sam Rathling's LinkedInbound presentation, she mentioned a key pillar:

Content.

Visual content, whether it is imagery or video, connects with people, particularly video. Although LinkedIn can be quite a text-orientated channel, compared with Instagram, when used well, video can produce good engagement and returns.

My exhortation then is to take your story, as we all have a story that is completely unique to who we are and our journey; and tell it in a visual way to create the impact that you need to drive your business forward.

If you want to chat about how you can capture your story in an unique, visual way, I'd love to talk to you.