By June 27, 2013 Read More →

Networking tips for home businesses

No need to be nervous about networking!

Networking tips for home businesses - Stuart RussellStuart Russell is so convinced of the benefits of networking that he set up the site FindNetworkingEvents.com to help business owners all over the UK find a local event. In this guest post he gives his tips for nervous networking newbies:

Working from home is a great way to run your business, but many home workers miss out on the social contact of working alongside others.

As the numbers of business events taking place across the UK has grown, more and more home businesses are realising the benefits that regular face-to-face networking can bring.

Why should I network?

Many people have the perception that networking is all about selling but the truth is that it offers many other less obvious benefits.  

It can provide a useful support network enabling you to bounce ideas off others or perhaps spark new ideas.  It can also open up collaboration possibilities, maybe allowing you to take on bigger clients or provide useful skills that another organisation is lacking.

And of course there are the added social benefits of just getting out the house and meeting people!  

What types of events are out there?

If you are concerned that you will need to get up at 5am to network or perhaps confront your worst public speaking fears then relax, there really is something out there to suit everybody these days.

Typically most events will take place at breakfast, lunchtime or early evening.  Structures will vary and some will be more formal than others.  Some may involve giving a short pitch about your business, others just a meet-up and a chat over coffee.

Generally event organisers are getting more creative and coming up with new ideas for business events all the time.  Some interesting events recently have combined networking with walking, curries and boat trips along the Thames, though not all at the same time!

Have a plan

If you are tempted to dip your toe into the networking world then it is important to do some planning beforehand.  

Have a think about what you want to achieve from your networking. Are you looking for new customers or collaboration partners, or do you just want to build a support network for your business?

What kind of return on investment are you looking for from your networking?  There are obviously financial and time implications involved, so it is important to know how much it is costing you and what kind of return you are getting.

By knowing what you want to achieve you can more easily choose the events that fit your needs.

The event itself

Always present yourself and your business in a positive manner. Make sure you know how to talk about what you do in layman’s terms.  If people don’t understand what you do then they are less likely to use your services or recommend you to someone else.

It is worth spending a bit of money on good quality, well designed business cards. Add your social networking details as well as your main contact details.  Don’t automatically hand them out to everyone you meet though; unwanted cards will only end up in the bin.

Back at the home office

Finally, it is important that you follow up with people once you get back home.  If there is someone you hit it off with at an event then drop them a quick email after the meeting to say hi and it was good to meet you.  

Connecting on LinkedIn is a great way to stay in touch with people and to let them know what you are up to.  

The important thing to realise about networking is that it is all about building relationships with people, getting to know them to the point where they trust you and would recommend you to others.

And remember, networking should be fun, so get out there and enjoy it!

Stuart Russell is an online marketing consultant and founder of FindNetworkingEvents.com, the UK’s leading Business Networking Events directory.

Over the past 10 years he has worked on sites for many high profile organisations and now focuses on helping clients develop and market their businesses online.

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3 Comments on "Networking tips for home businesses"

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  1. Sharon says:

    I heartily agree, there are so many varied networking group now that there is one for every one – even introverts 🙂

    I don’t network for new business as such, more for the interaction, help and support that I get. It is all about building relationships though as I’ve found the longer I attend my group the more referrals I get through it. Without any “selling”

    • Ha, a networking group for introverts! I bet Colin Shelbourn could draw a good cartoon of that, Sharon! Going to a networking event where people are set on selling is such a depressing experience.

  2. Sharon says:

    I will mention it to him 🙂

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