How networking groups can give you the edge without the stress
Just like a terribly awkward date, professional networking can be a painstaking and nerve-racking process. There are no real instructions, and, much like dating, you just have to go out there and do it.
Is this how you picture youself looking like this when meeting new people?
But as is the problem with any small business operation, there is often not enough time to perfect the mysterious art of networking simply because owners are too busy running their businesses! Fortunately, there is a way for SME owners to have a stellar networking experience without taking up too much of their valuable time. Networking groups such as Business Network International (BNI) organise weekly meetings to allow business owners to source new customers and leads, as well as refer people they know to other members of the group. This takes the guesswork out of networking, as everyone at the meeting has the same goal in mind, to help each other out and gain new customers in the process.
Michael, our fearless leader, has been a part of a local BNI chapter since the start of the year and we are already reaping the benefits. According to Mike, “People do business with people they trust. The more opportunities you have to network with like-minded business people, the more trust is built. Once you've built enough trust, these people will be inclined to refer you to their own intimate network.”
Networking groups also offer a learning experience to all attendees. By forcing members to get up in front of a large group and speak publicly about their business, as well as meeting new people in a professional setting, attendees are fast tracked through networking in a supportive environment. Growing your business and building your network simultaneously may seem like an almost impossible task, but networking groups allow it to be done in an extremely structured and efficient manner.
If you still have hesitations about joining a group, much like going out with that guy or girl at the pub, we say have a go. You never know what you may get out of it.