For Small Businesses, networking should be a vital component to building your business. Whether this is for new clients, learning about new services or telling people about what you do.
“However, in today’s fast paced society, I have witnessed networking become more of pitching game. A means to shove your concept at people in the hope that they will buy.”
I have been to many a networking group where the aim is to build your business, but fail to note the importance of building actual relationships. After all, that is what networking is about, building key connections for your business. What many fail to realise is that this concept of building relationships takes time and effort. For people to really understand our business and the essence behind it is going to take more than a pitch or a pushy five minute chat.
So Jay and myself decided to take a road trip to the beautiful city of Cambridge. Where ironically through networking we had come across ‘Drive’. A new networking group designed to build its structure around building connectivity.
Founded by Ann Hawkins and Siobhan Costello. It is changing the way we network by understanding that building real relationships is key to building your business. The interesting thing with networking is that the structure of the session will usually dictate the outcome. It’s about creating a mindset where everyone feels comfortable to interact with each other in a way where it is mutually beneficial. No one likes to be pitched at, or pushed into doing something they don’t want to.
After talking to a fair few small businesses myself, many had fallen out of love with networking because it invoked a fear of public speaking or being pushed into selling their concept. If you feel uncomfortable or nervous, you are going to radiate a lack of confidence which isn’t good for connectivity. Networking should be a relaxed exercise where you build connections and support. This was one of the main reasons I liked Drive. It was about putting its members in positions where they could enjoy the experience and build connections in a way which suited them. There was no uncomfortable moments, but creativity and connectivity blossomed.
Being around networking since I was 18, it was definitely one of the better networking experiences, especially for small businesses. It helps that the team who set it up are infectiously passionate about supporting small businesses themselves which helps to make sure that the group remains focused yet flexible. In a way it teaches how networking should be done, by listening to it’s members and implementing from the bottom up. Even though I had to get up at 5 in morning and make the 2 hour drive from my home, it was definitely worth it.
Drive is being rolled out in various parts of the UK, you can check out their site here to see what is happening near you!