One of the best pieces of advice around for both job seekersand entrepreneurs is networking. The importance of building a network cannot be ignored if you are looking for opportunities to find a new role or meet new customers.
People you know from all areas of your life can help you achieve your goals; whether it be finding a new job or reaching out, discovering new markets or sharing ideas.
Apart from your actual network of family, friends, friends of friends, colleagues, ex-colleagues etc etc it’s important to remember that on-line networking plays a big part as well. Using social media and dedicated networking sites is imperative for all businesses large or small.
However, with regard to being self-employed, how do you build your network and gain trust and confidence in the people you network with?
LinkedIn for example is essential for building connections whether you are job searching or looking for prospective clients and suppliers. You can build your network through conenctions and ask to be connected. Join groups and meet like-minded or prospects and join in discussion. Other on-line networking sites could include ecademy and Business Scene.
There are also off-line networking groups Business Magnets, BNI, 4N, 1230 and The Womens Business Club to name but a few where meeting regularly you have the opportunity of sharing your USP, your wishes and offer referrals. Once a member for sometime, these meetings may give you the chance to air a topic which you want to explore with others, get second opinions on ideas and general be a professional support group. Very valuable when you work alone.
What are the elements that ensure you build trust and rapport?
Does meeting regularly for example at the weekly breakfast or monthly lunch and giving your 90 second pitch allow you to build a picture of your fellow members and their business? Do you feel immediately confident that your shared membership means that members will ‘work’ on your behalf and offer impartial guidance, qualified referrals and share essential expertise?
By exchanging pleasantries, news and information in online forums do you get a greater sense of knowledge and can you build rapport quicker or not?
Why is that you ‘click’ with some people on or off-line better than you do with others?
If you understood the behaviours of people within your network, could you build more meaningful relationships? Would you be able to collaborate better if you could anticipate problems within your network and make the best of who you get to know?
Being self-employed is no easy task. You have to manage client and supplier relationships, juggle different roles and deliver on your promises. By understanding your own behaviours and preferred style of communication and working, would you be more effective and efficient in generating leads and converting them successfully?
I know these are lots of questions and to some there maybe different answers and reasons for networking on and off-line. By creating stronger ties you could give yourself more opportunities and chances for success.
If you had the opportunity to complete a psychometric tool that gave you a personal profile identifying your behaviours and then led you to an online networking site, would you take it?