One of the goals I have been set this year is to attend networking events. As Marketing Communications Manager you might think I would be out and about meeting new people and spreading the Clear Books word all the time. You would be wrong! I’m mostly found behind my computer typing away writing emails, newsletters, website content and advertising copy (or in the kitchen making a coffee)!

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a small business. I’m writing this article to highlight the benefits of networking and why each and every one of you should be putting yourselves out there and getting involved.

Since March I have been to two different types of networking event – speed networking and an exhibition. Both were different, but equally beneficial.

I found the concept of Speed Networking to be very daunting, especially as this was my first ever networking event. I couldn’t have been further off the mark. I was greeted by an extremely friendly host and felt relaxed as soon as I walked through the door.

I had read up a lot about creating the ‘perfect pitch’ and how to really sell myself and I think that was what triggered my hesitance to attend networking events – hard-selling is not something I feel comfortable doing. I’m sure a lot of you may feel the same. Maybe you don’t have the confidence to really push yourself and put yourself out there, but it turns out, this probably means networking is even more suited to you. Networking allows you to build relationships with people who will put the word out about your business for you.

Networking isn’t about selling at all, if you go in ready to SELL SELL SELL it is unlikely that you will come out with any real benefit. Networking is all about building and nurturing relationships. Even if you meet someone who has no need for your product or service, you don’t know who they will know that does. Don’t expect to come out of a networking event with instant customers, but do expect to come out with details of people who you can build a relationship with and will then be keen to spread the word about your business.

The benefits of attending networking events don’t stop there! As well as meeting people who could potentially bring you customers, you will be meeting businesses who offer a product or service that you or someone you know may benefit from.

I will be blogging regularly about my networking experiences: sharing tips that I pick up along the way and giving you the details of anyone I meet who might be beneficial to you and your business. To kick this off, I met some of the lovely team from Avanta Virtual¬†who provide virtual offices for those business who would like a presence in London but don’t want to pay the ever rising prices for a physical office. Check out their website and get your home address off your business cards whilst still working from your spare room.

Happy networking!!

David Eaton

Posted by David Eaton

David is a Chartered Accountant and Director of SME Strategies (smestrategies.co.uk) which offers tailored support to ambitious SMEs and gives mentoring to owner managers.

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