As Essex Coordinator I often get told “There are so many networks to chose from, how do I know yours is any good?”
And its a fair point. There is a ton of choice out there – which is great for the consumer…..and the network. You see we never placed ourselves as a rival, on the contrary we regularly promote other networks and business groups, why? Because if its good for business we want to be telling you about it.
A different approach you may say, well yes, but then it works. You see we are here to do the hard work for you. Try out the networks, the seminars and workshops and we share with you the good stuff. You can expect to hear about those ideas at every event in the business ops slot at 10.30.
But lets get down to the nitty gritty – you network because ultimately it leads to leads and sales and profit and success. On top of those things at the BWN you can expect support (it can be a lonely world for a business woman – and its great to know what you are experiencing or finding tough someone else has the answers to - probably because they have been through it too!)
You get motivated into action – so often women say to me, thanks to coming to The BWN last week, I picked up the phone/got in touch/changed my website/got up and spoke about my company/challenged their decision/went for it/took my business to the next level. And that results in even more success.
The BWN blogs and “What Business Women Say” pages of our website are packed with testimonials of how we have helped business women get what they want for their business and their success – all in an environment that is always welcoming (never clicky!) motivational and business focussed – we may mention what gorgeous heels you are wearing but then its straight back to business. Because we know that’s what matters to you.
Jo Hockey shares with us why its good for your business to get to know your local charities;
“I will start with a little story that really quite shocked me when I attended my first network meeting as a charity employee.
Having run my own business and also after spending many years working for large financial services companies, I was no stranger to networking meetings. I liked the buzz of walking into a room full of people you had not met before and making connections with different people from all walks of life. Indeed, I have some very great friends who I have met through networking meetings over the years.
I went to my first networking meeting representing Headway Essex, feeling quite buoyant and full of expectation. Having grabbed my coffee, I started to look around the room for any people looking open to join in conversation. A woman caught my eye and smiled and off I went to start to chat. I had no visible signs around me to say that I worked for a charity, so I guess I lulled her into a false sense of security! “Hello” I said, “I am Joanne Hockey and I work” for Headway Essex. “Ooh” said the woman “Headway Essex, what do they do?” “We are a charity who provides support for people with acquired brain injury”. Not even managing to mask the look of disappointment on her face, she then went on in a flustered way to say, “I am sorry but we have already given away some of our products for free for charities and can’t do anything to help you”. “Oh” I said, a little taken aback “funny” I thought “I just wanted to find out about you and your company”
Afterwards I started to think. “Was this one off or do others feel the same when they find they are talking to someone from a charity?”
This prompted me to write this blog to highlight the opportunities that a Charity can offer to businesses.
Headway Essex is a charity but it still has to be run like a business;
……………….the list goes on. We may get the odd item donated, but as a rule, we have to generate funds to pay for all these things. We need to get these things at the right level of quality and a reasonable cost – as would any other business. We do not expect anything free (however it is nice if this is offered, occasionally!)
So what other opportunities are there for businesses to work in partnership with us?
EVENTS – We run several high profile events each year including our black tie ball, which attracts over 200 important and influential guests, who gather for a lavish evening at The Fennes Estate in Bocking Braintree. Companies involved in sponsoring the event or providing auction lots receive excellent publicity both on the night and on leading up to the event through our marketing and publicity to our database of supporters. We also hand out goody bags to everyone at the end of the evening with our contributor’s promotional items and flyers.
We also have events where local small business come along and sell their products and beauty and alternative health therapists come to promote their businesses. Most have generated several new business leads because of these.
Referrals – We have people who have offered services to us for free, or at a reduced rate and as a result have generated new business on the back of this with our recommendation.
Publicity – We have a great relationship with local press and can generate some great publicity for people you want to get involved with the charity. Last year in Action for Brain Injury week, we had a full two page spread in the Essex County Standard with photographs of some of the businesses who took part in our “Hats for Headway” campaign.
Oh and let us not forget – We have a database of over 2,500 supporters!
So next time you talk to somebody at a Networking event and he or she says that they work for a charity – please do not overlook them. You may lose out on a fantastic opportunity for your business.”
To learn more about Headway Essex, Connect with Jo Hockey or give a local charity a Tweet – www.headwayessex.org.uk or spot Jo at a BWN Essex event soon.
Don’t forget all charities can access permanent discounts at The BWN and can take advantage of getting crisp £5 notes with Getting paid to network – learn more here – http://thebusinesswomansnetwork.co.uk/getting-paid-to-network/
I suppose if someone had asked me a few months ago, what networking does for your business I would have listed the obvious;
I would have said it connects me with my ideal clients, it finds me solutions to my business, it basically ensures that I have what I need to succeed in business through a vast network of contacts and business associates.
I know that for some it still proves to be a struggle to make networking effective (ie, it helps you sustain and grow your business.) and the problem for many is they tackle networking in the wrong way.
It is about getting to know other people. For years sales and marketing gurus have been talking about getting to know, like and trust people and this is imperative in every format of your marketing strategy that truly ensure that this is being allowed to happen. So networking is not your opportunity to run around a room selling at people, it is about the basic essential knowledge that every sales person needs to know and that you are probably already aware of that people buy from people. I know it is often banded around, but stop for a moment and think about this statement.
The last time you were networking (and here you can now add social networking too) what was your approach? Was it how can I help you? Was it “here are some free connections/ideas/solutions for you and your business? Or was it top heavy with we are brilliant, and we do this and we do that?
From day one of a networking relationship it needs to be about the other person and their business needs. Think about this, if you are seriously doing this, then in every situation everyone would be doing their best for everyone else and thus everyone would get the results they were looking for. Great right?
But a word of caution.
It is an investment of your time and your money, as with any area of your marketing strategy so invest wisely. Test and measure the impact of your networking. Do you need to network in more than one place? With a different group of people? Or do you need to reconsider your networking style?
So you know what networking can do for your business success right, but here is a thought from someone who is considered a super connector. (Not my words I hasten to add)
I have always gone out of my way at every opportunity to answer the question for you “What can I do to help you?” in doing this I know that I am now considered a valuable person to network with and know, which means that when someone is ready to buy the first person they will think of is me. Remember you cannot dictate when someone is ready to buy however you can determine who they remember first when they are ready to buy. But just as importantly I recently learnt another power that networking has.
After experiencing a year of continual illness I’m glad I have a powerful marketing strategy because something that was not listed on my marketing production line (ask me about it sometime) was other people networking.
You see despite being unable to “get out there” my business didn’t suffer, new customers continued to contact me and business has steadily continued to grow. Because?
Because I have been a tireless campaigner for other people’s business success guess what happened when the chips were down and I needed help?
You guessed it.
I was inundated with offers of help and support.
So effective networking will not only provide you with contacts, potential customers and the answers to your business success. It also becomes a powerful ally to your marketing strategy.
So today ask yourself is your networking powering your success?
If not what do you need to do?
And if I can help feel free to give me a call – 07989935556 or see you at an Essex BWN event soon.
Best wishes and Happy Business
This week 1 business woman told me that I helped her get her biggest contract of 2011, another I got on ITN news and another told me where she was close to quitting she now has 3 employees – knowing me is dangerous!