I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know” and whilst that may not be 100% accurate, after all, it’s important that you know your trade and your customers are happy with the level of service that comes with your expertise, but the second part is definitely true. Who you know can mean the difference between business being great and business being slow, the more people that know who you are and what you can offer, the more chance you have of being recommended to others and so your network grows.
A great start to building your network is to attend networking meetings so you can make those initial contacts and for more advice on how to make networking meetings work for you please read Networking doesn’t have to be scary. However, building a network of people who know of you is one thing but if you want those people to have the confidence to refer you to other people then it’s all about the relationships you build and this is where arranging one to one meetings with people can really be invaluable.
One to ones are about getting to someone else’s business, who their ideal customer would be and how you can potentially help one another. You may have two completely different businesses or, you may be very similar in the services you offer but either way, you are tapping into their own network of people which in turn will help yours to grow. It is a two way street though. You can help them as much as they can help you and where possible you should do so in order to nurture that relationship and build trust.
The one thing I have learnt, however, is that sometimes a one to one can turn into more than just a useful business contact. For me, quite often a one to one has turned into a friendship and some of the most interesting conversations I have had recently have been in one to ones with people I may never have spoken to or even met if it wasn’t for a networking meeting .Obviously business is discussed but getting to know the person behind the business is where the relationship starts and I have had conversations about Star Trek, musical preferences, dogs (mine and theirs) and even Quantum Physics! I have enjoyed every single one.
Whilst building a network of people that might refer you to others is great we shouldn’t overlook the fact that knowing people that are in a similar boat to you is also hugely beneficial. Being in business can be lonely and overwhelming but by taking the time to sit and have a cuppa with someone for an hour you are also building your support network and there is a lot to be said for having someone you can call when you’re feeling out of your depth as, chances are, they will have been in your shoes at some point.
So, in summary, it is WHAT you know but it’s also very much WHO you know.