Hate networking? This is why you should love it…

Rebecca Loto
Rebecca Loto Launchpad
Type: Text
Category: Blog

by Rebecca Loto, Launchpad Resident Business Coach

Why network? Networking is fundamental to business success. Regardless whether you are a solopreneur or working within a team, you never know how useful a contact will be and when.

I absolutely love meeting new people - finding out how they started their venture, how they overcame any problems, their learnings, their advice, what they are doing next and more generally who they are and what their passions are.

For me networking is an opportunity to meet other business owners who are ambitious and positive, in a safe space. And you never know when you might need to call on someone in your network for some advice, an introduction to their colleague, to collaborate on a project or to just have a sounding board for a new idea. The list of benefits of networking is endless and from my experience, business professionals and entrepreneurs are only too happy to share their knowledge and help.

Don’t believe me? Well, a few years ago I went to a property networking meeting, PIG (Cornwall - PIG - Professional Investment Group) and met Tom Jones, founder of Launchpad company Constructiv. We later met for a coffee as I knew he had some house share properties, also known as House of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and I was interested in learning more about how they worked. Two years later I found myself owning my own outdated house, which needed a full refurbishment to convert it into an HMO. My builder was admitted to hospital the same week I received the keys, so I was in a panic and needed trades fast! I reached out to Tom, and he provided a couple of skilled tradesmen who worked on the project for the duration. Even though I had loved Tom’s business idea of providing trades people for the construction industry, I never thought I’d need his services when my business plan was to be a property manager.

This relationship has proved invaluable, and I have loads of examples of how networking with business owners has helped me enormously throughout my property business venture to date.

So, my top tips for making the most out of a networking meeting:

  1. Remember everyone is human! It doesn’t matter what someone’s job title is, their age, what stage of business they are at, how much money they have made – everyone is human. Don’t be scared to approach anyone and remember, they may be shy and grateful for you approaching them.
  2. Ask questions and listen. Have the confidence to speak, introduce yourself and ask questions to get the conversation started but don’t dominate the discussion, people love it if you listen. Be respectful of peoples’ time and let them go to network with others.
  3. Include everyone in the conversation. Lots of people find networking awkward so always welcome people into the conversation if you are aware they are 'hovering' nearby and not wanting to interrupt. Work the room, don’t play it safe and stay in one group or by the coffee stand. Feel rude about moving on? Don’t be, simply say how lovely it was to connect, but you’re all here for networking and you’ll leave them to allow them to speak to others. This can be daunting at first, but it is always worthwhile, and a new group will enjoy having a fresh face joining them.  
  4. Make sure you get their full name. This might sound silly but it’s crucial to help you connect further. Ask them if they are on LinkedIn and connect with them right then. If they have a business card my tip here is to note down something personal about them on the card. Remember people buy from people so creating a relationship is key.
  5. Follow up. It’s essential to follow up. I like to do this within a week of meeting, usually via LinkedIn. I like to make it personal, recalling something we chatted about to help them remember me – you can use the note on the business card to help here!

As I like to say to our founders… your network is your net worth.

So next time you’re at a networking event make sure you make the most of the opportunity; smile, introduce yourself, ask questions, listen, connect and then move on. Have fun!

Rebecca is Resident Business Coach at Launchpad, supporting our founders on their start-up journey. She also has her own property management and letting company Lotus Property Services, and co-host of Cornwall's Property Investment Group, affectionately known as PIG.

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