Networking isn’t not working
Given my business model you may find it surprising that I attend business networking events. There is an article in Quay magazine (page 76) that explains how my business model works. For that model to be effective, to find customers and to get work I need to be well known in my specialist field. I do that mostly by meeting runners and event organisers at races and occasional at expos, e.g. The National Running Show, the balance is from social media activities. Occasionally I come across fellow runners at business networking events, but that is not why I attend. There is a big clue in the dictionary definition of networking – the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. And therein lies the reason why some people think, or find, networking doesn’t work; the definition does not say make a sales pitch. Yes, tell me what you do, then tell me something about you so we can interact.
As a writer, blogger and ultra runner I spend a lot of time on my own, interacting with other people at networking events provides me with little nuggets that spark my imagination and get my writing fired up, unless you are an automaton delivering a sales pitch. Now that most of what I do is not happening (races and foreign trips cancelled) I have had to find things to replaces those activities and to generate some income. Online networking has been brilliant at helping with that because I am not restricted by geography or travel bans, I can Zoom all over the place. It has also helped with my personal life. Before lockdown I used to visit a cafe in Truro, The Cornish Vegan, for coffee and cake, I can no longer do that; however the daughter of one of the people I met at online networking events bakes vegan cakes and posts them – sorted. A chance comment during a networking event led to me binge watching BoJack Horseman on Netflix – not the sort of programme I would normally watch; I’m addicted now.
The business benefits have been equally as diverse, I now have some different products to sell – that’s some of the missing income replaced, I’ve been inspired to take on some writing projects outside of my normal sphere of operations and have made some contacts that I know will lead to some interesting collaborations once restrictions are lifted.
Get out and get networking (virtually at the moment) and remember some of the words in the definition, interacting and exchange; it’s an active and two-way process. Don’t make your pitch then switch off, you will be seen looking bored by all the online attendees and you will miss all the interesting stuff other people are saying and not see the opportunities.
If networking isn’t working you are doing it wrong.