Build Business Relationships
You enter the room, everyone seems to be deep in conversation and self-consciously you walk to the other side and collect a drink. You turn around and face the room; you still haven't seen anyone you know and no-one seems to notice as you walk past. Everyone looks like they are talking confidently with people they have known for years. You don't see anyone else alone like you are. You freeze, you feel silly, you wish you hadn't come.
OK, so most of us don't react to networking experiences that dramatically, but I suspect we can all relate to walking into a busy room where you don't know anyone and you think gulp? I have to start making conversation and get business from here? How? Networking is a lifeline for any small business; it is how you meet prospective clients, partnerships, do market research and meet new suppliers. The small business owner, and let?s be clear about this two thirds of private enterprises are solo entrepreneurships and SME's account for 99.9% of all enterprises, must master how to make valued relationships quickly if they are going to have a sustainable business venture.
When I first started networking I definitely fell into the unconfident at networking events category. I didn't even know networking events existed when I started in business, let alone so many of them. Even more complicated for me is that I do something a bit different and my greatest resources can't go networking, I simply couldn't get them through the door.
So I decided to create a Networking Masterclass to get better at networking and let my team do some networking of their own. Business owners and influencers from all over the South East came and learnt a range of valuable networking tips that were relevant to them such as:
- the importance of focusing on the other person (to take your focus away from yourself if you are feeling self conscious)
- the value of eye contact
- how important it is to have a go
- when to move on to the next person
- to scan the room to see who you would like to talk with and approach them rather than pick who is on their own or next to you
- to watch out for networking fatigue
All this meant that when we went networking next time we had a strategy that would make us feel more confident and help us be more successful ? and to my great delight, it worked! The best bit is the team that I talk about are horses. All those learnings I just mentioned came about as a result of working alongside a herd of horses that includes an ex-racehorse, an Irish draught and a cheeky pony from the New Forest. It's a form of learning known as Horse Assisted Education, where people have learning experiences where the horses are the teachers. Horses, when given the opportunity are fantastic teachers. They are non-verbal so you have to learn to read and communicate with them through body language. Horses communicate largely through emotion too, so they encourage us to be more aware of how we are feeling and then be more honest, open and authentic. Structured exercises coupled with insightful questions help you work out what networking style works for you, as well as provide your fellow participants the chance to get to know and trust you on a much deeper level. Often leading to valuable new connections.
Thank you to article writer Becci Harvey Equine
Assisted Educator, Mind Detox Practitioner and Usui Reiki Master