Going back to my roots…
I’ve been networking all my life and didn’t even realise it. I think it’s fair to say, I was an early adopter.
None of this occurred to me until recently when I was heading south on the A49 to Hereford to the place of my birth (well near enough) in order to deliver a workshop to the Royal National College for The Blind on how to achieve maximum results from networking opportunities.
It was just around Ludlow when it dawned on me. I’ve been networking for over 40 years. Since a time long ago. Since the age of 5. Since the days when I lived in central Hereford and spent most of my spare time travelling up and down the pedestrianised zone on my bike wearing either Wellington boots or flip flops depending on the weather conditions
My regular routine involved, apparently, riding up and down the street pausing only to speak to people who caught my eye, (and there were many it seems), engaging them in conversation and, if I was lucky, securing a small financial gift with which to venture to the sweet shop. Sheer skill!
But there wasn’t only financial reward. I gained access to homes, gardens and dusty upstairs rooms as part of my travels. I benefited from the stories regaled by colourful characters on benches in the Cathedral close and I spent many hours gazing into shop windows gleaning subliminal messages of how to ‘set out my stall’.
I realise this may sound like some form of child neglect on the part of my parents but things were different in those days, or so I am told. I have to believe it otherwise, I might start to think there was some plot to get rid of me. And at such a young age…
So, could I really be networking at the age of 5? Is it possible that some of the skills I now rely on to grow my business were formed at such a young age and is there anything to be learned from my formative years? I believe so.
- 1. Get on your bike
If you don’t get out there you won’t meet anyone. Sounds obvious but you would be amazed at just how many people I speak to who either never venture out to a network meeting or, possibly worse, join a networking group and then never attend. As with the National Lottery, you’ve got to be in it to win it. So, whether you are sitting on the fence and wondering whether to take those first steps into networking or if you have paid your subs but never made it back to another meeting Get on your bike.
- 2. Seek out hidden gems
Networking isn’t just about focusing on one type of business. Of course, you will have your target audience but, with networking you need to think about who else you can connect with. You will have heard the phrase ‘sell through the room not just to the room’. As a child, I didn’t only focus on getting to know the owner of the sweet shop. I spread my wings to the antique shop, the pub, the art gallery and even the Cathedral. Not typical places for a 5 year old to be attracted to but all held people and they, as I clearly realised, were likely to provide a better return when it came to sweets!
- 3. Ask Questions
Whilst I wasn’t the cutest kid on the block I must have been doing something right when it came to engagement. The most common conversation opener for a child is through the asking of questions and that certainly applies in a networking situation. I had a thirst for information that has stayed with me into adult life. Wanting to know the bigger picture means that I spend a lot of time asking questions and, perhaps more importantly, listening to the answer. In networking, questions are the key to information and information is the key to engagement.
So, there you have just a few of the many ways in which my childhood activities (before school really got in the way) have helped to grow my business and expand my knowledge of the local community.
If you would like to know more about how I can help you to get the most out of your networking opportunities contact Heather on 07843 006984 or email email@example.com