Networking has played a huge part in my business since I got started. It has been my chance to get out there and showcase what I can do, as well as meet other businesses. I thought I would share my experience of networking and why It has been invaluable for my business.
I started Dot & Stripe at the beginning of lockdown due to COVID-19. I had been running my children’s franchise business in 2019 and decided to sell up just before I had my son in September 2019. I had found myself leading the marketing for the main franchise HQ and it was a great flexible situation which I could balance around childcare and still use my experience. Have a read about my blog on how I got started.
But as the rumours of lockdown circulated, the franchise children’s events stopped, and unfortunately so did the marketing work I did for them. But, for a long time I knew I had to get myself out there to support more businesses, so it was just the butt kick I needed to get started.
Like everyone I panicked about how I was going to be able to grow my business and get clients when I could not actually leave the house. But very quickly many of the usual face to face networking sessions began appearing online to join.
It was great for me, as I could join a quick networking session for one hour, rather than having to travel to a venue and it take up more of my day. Of course, many of us experienced technical hiccups, children running in, microphones left on and many more obscure distractions. But it was great to feel connected to people, even when we could not meet in person.
I found regular sessions to join like the Kettering Business Network, which I joined each Monday morning to kick start my week, and Busy Women Networking, which supported women in business to promote themselves and made loads of new connections and was referred to many new businesses too. I also balanced free networking sessions with paid ones which I felt I was getting the most value.
Going regularly really boosted the times I was being referred or mentioned. Jumping in and disappearing just makes you look like you are only in it to talk about yourself.
Here are a few of the key benefits I have found from networking:
- I got to strengthen my connections– networking is not just about your sales pitch. You get to connect with like-minded people and the bonus is sometimes you meet your ideal customer
- Get new ideas– When you work in a micro business you sometimes live in your own world and question your decisions. Networking allows you to get new perspectives you might not have considered for your business and ask the nagging questions to other people who may just have the answers
- Get advice to advance your business– A great example of this for me was when I just got started. I knew I needed business insurance, but I was overwhelmed with all the choices. I asked for recommendations during networking and was sent several contacts who were able to help me.
- Build confidence– When I first got started, I was sure I had a great business and the experience to help people. But until you get out there and start telling people, you can never be sure. Once I got networking, and people started getting in touch or asking for more information it was a huge confidence boost to know I was doing something right.
- Build connections and friendships– Not everyone is in networking for friendships. But it is a bonus when you meet people at networking who ‘get you’. It is a bit like having a bunch of great colleagues where you get the camaraderie and fun of being part of something. Of course, you build connections and contacts too and they potentially refer you and mention you to other people who may be looking for your skills.
As lockdown begins to ease, I am looking forward to seeing what the future of my networking looks like. Whether it remains online or heads face to face, I will definitely be continuing to invest in networking for my business and for myself.
If you know any local networking groups which I am missing out on do let me know, I would love to join.
I decided to take over leading the MIB Intl Networking Northampton group in August 2020, where it’s an opportunity for mums and women in business to connect and networking around their families. We have a Facebook group and run monthly networking events which we would love to welcome you to.
Join our Facebook Group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/958832387916648/