The January meeting of Women in Business, West Kent was hosted by Emma Cox of Cox Consultancy and focussed on Business Networking.
Emma talked us through some interesting facts about networking. It probably came as no surprise to anyone that the top two reasons why people network are to gain referrals and new business. However, interestingly, people also use networking in order to find someone to collaborate with, for support and advice, and also for social interaction – all of which can be particularly important if you work for yourself from home.
Emma told us that the key to successful networking is setting your strategy beforehand; when you add everything up, such as membership fees, petrol, your own time, networking can be costly and it’s important to know why you are doing it and what you hope to achieve.
One tip that Emma gave is once you have spoken with people at the event, split them into categories:
A- People who you would like to do business with now
B- People who you might potentially do business with in the future
C- Anyone else.
To see results from your networking, you should aim to spend the majority of your time with group A.
The Tunbridge Wells area really does have a plethora of networking meetings – Emma told us about some of the more prominent ones such as BOB (Business over Breakfast) which takes place every fortnight, BNI which is weekly, the Muesli Mafia (every other month), 4 Networking, Net and of course, our own group – WIB. There are also single events which you can attend such as Kent 2020 and the Business Growth Show.
Finally, Emma’s top tips for making the most of your networking time were:
- Have a networking strategy and break this down into specific goals for each meeting.
- Prepare and practice your 60 second ‘elevator’ speech – know what you want to say when people ask you about your business.
- Get professionally designed business cards.
- Attend a variety of different events and don’t necessarily join the first one that you go to – others may be better suited to your needs.
- Enjoy it!