Well 1 month of online networking and it’s divided the network, the nation and possibly the world. Thankfully not literally. However, we have heard from many business men and women (yes men attend our events every month too.) and opinion is split;
Half of you are loving online networking and half of you are hating it.
Jill Roberson the Eco Queen from Tropic Skin care said “I’m loving it, I can interact with so many more people”
But Jill like myself seems to be getting a different experience to many who privately messaged to say things like;
“Mandie I don’t want to talk to everyone about what is happening for me. I don’t know everyone well enough to do that. I just don’t’ have the confidence.”
“Mandie there is so much free stuff out there, I’m overwhelmed by it all.”
“I’m networking so much to try and bring in business and I think I’m just a busy fool. I’m getting really down.”
And these are just some of the comments I received when I ran a quick poll this morning. So from someone who is gaining new business and new opportunities through networking at The BWN (And so far it’s the only place I’ve had time to network despite being on lock down since the 11th of March) I want to share some ways to get more out of networking (wherever you chose to do it.)
- Why are you there?
One of the reasons people are feeling overwhelmed is because they’ve not considered why they are networking. If you are an Insider (Our confidential mastermind group – £5 a month so hopefully affordable to all) you will know I “bang on” about your reasons for doing what you do – Who do you need to speak to? Who are your ideal customers? How much do you want to earn? What do you need? How do you connect with your customers? What do they need to hear from you? Question are question but these build up to help you stay focused on your business plans and goals and not get distracted. Distraction is a massive problem right now. Which leads me on to….
In one week I was invited to 30+ new groups for networking and business growth. 30! I could spend my life just chatting in these groups getting nothing done. Here’s the thing as my coaching clients will tell you when you have a laser focused plan of action and the goals are crystal clear in your head you are less likely to go in every direction available to you right now. It’s no surprise that people are gardening and baking and not working because it can be overwhelming working out what to do next?
On the Insiders there are some work sheets that look at how to set goals and stick with them. And then if marketing is on the agenda there are worksheets to help you plan and action that too. When you know what you are doing and why you are doing it your networking strategy is easier to stick with. And best of all with the right networking and support when you wonder if you should go in the right direction you know you will get the right answers to stay focused.
3. Be honest in our own way
As someone who is many people’s confidant, I know that people don’t share even a third of who they are most of the time. That is not because they are trying to hide who they are, more likely they don’t feel comfortable or like to discuss personal things in public. I get that. If this is you the small group chats and one to one moments where you get to catch up with the networkers you know the best can be harder. You can’t turn to someone that is talking and say “Excuse me. Jane has known me for 8 years and I need to just have a heart to heart with her right now.”
For the record networking that enables all conversations is usually more powerful because in my experience of coaching; personal life, emotions and home life can all massively impact on business success. That is why when you need to talk honestly the Insiders is perfect. We’ve seen some amazing conversations there. (I wish I could tell you more but it’s confidential.) and you need groups like that. Not the “Likers” who just love everything you do – never been to your page, phoned you or are interesting in buying from you but habitually like everyone in the hope it will help grow their business (That strategy doesn’t work by the way.) You can also message me anytime, so be honest with people. You don’t have to explain, just arrange to finish the networking session with a 1 2 1 phone call or messenger chat – impromptu and personal. If that’s what you need ask for it. I’ve had so many 1 2 1’s since lock in (I don’t call it lock down, lock in is more fun.) Another benefit I feel. I’m getting to know so many of you so well.
4. Free doesn’t mean good.
Alas as many of you are telling us free doesn’t mean good. It’s lovely to sit around and have a chat but now we’ve got to work harder to grow our businesses and for some come up with a whole new range of products and services, your time is more valuable than ever. As one networker told me;
“I’m was very busy but busy was not equating to leads, sales or opportunities. I’m going to just stick with the BWN.”
Find out how the networking is organised. Sometimes we need time to just chat with people but at the BWN you also get business ops – telling you about events around the country (often that you can attend through us for free) and PR opportunities and time to speak to the audience and a master class that is around a key area of business growth and development. Despite organising all of our speakers in 2019 for 2020, we’ve gone back and looked to ensure every speaker is tailored to these unique scary times, so we know you are not wasting your time by being with us. We highly recommend you grade the quality of the networking you do over the coming month – that way you can work out what is working. And remember it’s not just about getting leads – good networking should empower you, motivate you, keep you bang on trend and help you learn new skills too.
5. At the event.
Mute or hide if you like – it is not easy working from home, and do you know what? We really don’t mind the dog barking, the cat on the table or the kids needing help with their homework or to negotiate the sharing of the ipad. We love you and your business and that includes who you are. But if it is all too much, you can mute your mike and even turn your camera off and just listening. We won’t be offended. Work with us in the way that works for you.
It’s behind you! Unlike real world networking you can make your environment as branded as your business. So get your banner up. If you are an interior designer or photographer give us a wall of beauty. If you are a personal trainer, feel free to be standing up during the session having a stretch. Be mindful about what the back ground says about you. I’ve seen dirty washing, dirty tissues and even a line of Gin bottles – now I love my gin (and I have a line of pretty gin bottles) but you won’t see them at a networking event – what is your background saying about you?
This is a chance to get creative. I like to dress up for networking. Yes I’ve got my slippers on and a hubby across from me, but I like to wear the right outfit, get the earrings right and even put my watch on despite the fact I can see 3 clocks on my various screens! What makes you feel professional and ready for work? If you want to network in your PJ’s feel free to, but what is that saying about you? If it connects you to your target audience all good, but know what your image is saying. Our image becomes even more important when we are all the size of a small box.
Chat box – this is a great tool to enable you to ask questions as the session is going on. And when it comes to delivering your 60 seconds, you can add your links to your social media, the blog you mentioned or your website – we are finding people are more connected thanks to that little box! And personally it means I can support our members far more because I have more time to answer more questions and share more solutions for business owners.
Lights, Camera, Action!
Like a studio, consider your camera and lighting. Practice looking at the camera when you speak to the networking group and not yourself or the other guests. Ensure the lighting is good. I have natural lighting but if you don’t have that luxury a side lamp angled behind your laptop will make you look amazing (not that you don’t anyway.) Having done a lot of photo shoots I know the make up tends to be heavier than I’d wear. Okay maybe not so relevant for business men (although on TV they wear make up so they don’t look washed out and unwell). So if you are used to a polished look consider how your appearance looks on camera.
Please get the angle right on your laptop/phone/tablet. I’m getting rather bored of seeing up people’s noses on TV. Surely someone told them about this? I’ve a stand I bought online that means my camera is at eye height (also good for looking after your back when working from home) as one Insider shared with us, turns out a stack of loo roll doubles up nicely to give you the right height – who would know?) You can turn your camera on early and play with the set up of your environment because that helps you be more confident before you even arrive, which leads me on to…
Be yourself. More than anything be yourself. That is what really sells well. Often in coaching session it is helping people to feel confident to be themselves that has the first big impact on their sales and profitability. See the next top tip for more on this…
6. Your confidence levels.
One of the things that can really impact on your ability to effectively network online is your confidence levels. I’ve tons of ways to help you build your confidence and remember if you are an Insider you can get my “Rocket your confidence” course for £1 (I know pointless price – for everyone else it’s £49 but I love to show how much I care about our mastermind group.)
7. Rehearse that 60 seconds and have your bullet points by your laptop.
If you are nervous, practising your 60 seconds, going back to the first points of this article so you tailor your 60 seconds Promo slot to your needs for your business can really help. Only say one thing. Start and finish with your name and remember to add your links to the chat box too. (There is a course on my site on creating the perfect 60 seconds and how to make that a powerful tool in your marketing too. And yes it’s also a £1 for Insiders.)
Since none of us have a commute back to the office after each event there will be a free coaching and mentoring session. I will then encourage everyone to head to the Insiders to share their actions, homework and give everyone somewhere to be accountable to their follow up and business growth plans. I love that the conversations keep flowing on the Insiders all month long keeping the motivation and sustainability going. And the masterclass session turns into a market research and a “How would this work for my business?” place to ensure you get the most out of networking.
I hope these ideas help you too and as I tell all BWN Golden Ticket members, Insiders and BWN members – if you are struggling or having a tough day. You can always message me. Me and my team care passionately about your success and we are doing all we can to prove that.
Don’t forget this competition too – feel free to share the flyer and if you are not on the Insiders yet we would love to welcome you too. It’s jam packed with high quality advice, webinars, worksheets and so much more. Learn more and join us here.
As Founder of The BWN and an international coach, speaker and author I know what impacts on success and I’m very good at eradicating those obstacles so you get what you want. I don’t often tell people this however I’ve helped a good few people become millionaires (they did all the work, they just came to me for the coaching, accountability and the support) and whether you want to be a global brand or pay for the holidays, I love helping business men and women get the results they want and The BWN enables us to help you without investing big. We have lots of ways we can help so I look forward to seeing you at a networking event very soon. You can get involved in my social media and help yourself to tons of free resources by heading to www.mandieholgate.co.uk I’d love to get to know you better.