Simple small talk or something more? Reap the rewards of business networking

Professional networking… ACTIVE professional networking is paramount for any business or individual for career growth and development, right? But most of us feel awkward or even uncomfortable when we think about going to our next networking event. But why?

I’ve never found human connection as important and vital for business success as I do here in Australia, but more specifically here on the Sunshine Coast.

Networking is without a doubt, THE marketing strategy we always recommend and encourage our clients to master. In fact, it’s almost the only marketing activity we have been following since we settled on the Sunshine Coast 6 years ago, and there is no doubt about the result 😉.

A common misconception is that networking is all about selling yourself or throwing your business cards at everybody. When in fact, it’s all about building long-term relationships and a good reputation over time. It’s getting to know people who you can help and who can potentially help you in return. Networking is based on TRUST and SUPPORT.

I’ve got to admit, there isn’t more of a supportive community than ours here on the Sunshine Coast. So, what are you waiting for? Networking can be the difference between a mediocre business/career and an amazing one!

In case you’re not yet convinced, let’s look at the 3 main benefits that networking can have on your business or career.

Strengthen business connections

Networking is all about sharing, building trust, and helping each other achieve goals. Regular engagement with your peers in the business community helps you find opportunities for either yourself or your networking connections. By providing opportunities to these connections it helps strengthen the relationship by showing that you’re trustworthy and consistent. 

It also demonstrates that you’ve planted the seeds to show you’re willing to be helped by your networking community. Which is often a necessity when you’re aiming to achieve your professional goals. It’s a WIN-WIN.

Although, it's not only about the people you’re meeting with regularly at the networking events, it’s about their networks as well. If someone they know had a need that you or your business could match… what do you think is going to happen? You’re right! If you made a great impression and have proven your value, you’ll likely get that referral. WIN-WIN-WIN.

Can you see where this is going? Remember: we buy from the people we like, not from businesses (unless you are Apple 🤣).

Knowledge and Ideas

Networking is one of the best opportunities to gain knowledge and be exposed to new ideas.

When you attend a networking event you can expect to be exchanging best practices, learning about business techniques that others in the community are using, and keeping up to date with the latest news, trends, and innovations in different industries.

Do you ever feel that you’re not sure about a certain idea? Wouldn't it be great having a trusted group of peers with who you can share your questions and learn? 

You know what they say, we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. So, who are you spending your business time with? 

More often than not, those that you meet have been in your current situation, so their advice can be invaluable. 

Raise your profile

I know that not everybody loves the spotlight on them all the time, but you must agree that being visible and getting noticed is essential in business or career development.

One of the direct benefits of networking is just that. Regular attendance = face recognition = brand recognition = more business opportunities.

A few networking tips
  • Be humble.
  • Be genuinely interested in others.
  • Speak and listen in the same proportion. Remember, we have ears and a mouth, we don’t want to talk, talk, talk 🗣️.
  • Offer support and valuable information or tips.

These simple things will help you build a good reputation as a reliable, supportive and knowledgeable community member which is likely to generate more leads and referrals.

These are just three of the many benefits of business networking. I haven’t even touched on building brand reputation, developing trust and familiarity, the multitude of job opportunities, partnerships, and ventures that arise, or the constant access to advice and support, but I will save that for next time.

What are you waiting for? Here on the Sunshine Coast, we have a tonne of networking groups, from your local Chamber of Commerce to professional groups such as BNI, breakfast groups, and even industry-based groups like FAN or Manufacturing Excellence Forum.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, ‘It’s not what you know, but who you know’. A good friend told me many years ago, that here on the Sunshine Coast 'it’s not about who you know, but who knows you'. Believe me, I have never been in a place where that is more true than here. 

Now you know, if you only have time and resources to implement one marketing strategy this quarter then NETWORK MARKETING is your best bet!

I hope to see you at the next networking event. Don’t hesitate to come by and say hi, introduce yourself and let’s start the year off with a bang!!

Remember, it’s always scary to start, but once you start, your confidence grows and there’s no turning back.

TIME TO EMBRACE LIVE STREAMING

Time to embrace live streaming

We can’t blame everything on Covid, though some huge companies sure use it as the new ‘the dog ate my homework’ to get out of any responsibilities. On the other end of the sad-scale, the pandemic created a very serious issue for small businesses. Losing the face-to-face, personal connection to your customers is a devastating crisis to have.

Enter our good friend, live streaming. As a great knight in shining armour, live streaming can reach all of your audiences and attract some more, breaking down the barrier of missing physical location. Let me give you five smashing reasons why you should jump on connecting with your peeps through streaming, well... right about now.

  • Sky's the limit when it comes to eyeballs on you
  • Streaming live events online is effective and impactful in a wide variety of contexts because it allows professionals (that’s you), to share in-person events, service promotions, live announcements, online classes, church services, sporting events and wildlife broadcasting. 

    Live streaming means accessibility to your brand, knowledge, services and products. It is your 21st century soapbox to amaze your customers, and to create meaningful relationships. You can go hard and tap into a global audience or you can go niche and invite 10 of your ideal clients to take them on your brand journey.

  • Your wallet will thank you (less money out, more money in)
  • Even if you have the tightest of purse strings right now with a budget that needs a microscope, with live streaming you can make the most of your marketing. You can stream quality content to a big bunch of folks and make money at the same time.

    At this point, you may be wondering: how? Luckily, live streaming is equipped with a variety of tools for video monetisation. One method is to charge viewers to watch your live stream just like they’d pay for a movie or concert ticket. Viewers can pay via a pay-per-view model or a monthly subscription. Beware, your content has to be lit. If you’re like me (over 40), it means you better have content your audience WANTS to see. (We can also help with that... cough-cough).

    Live streaming also gives you the opportunity to advertise with absolute control over which ads are displayed. You can piggyback your existing sponsors or can start looking for one because now you have quality ad-space to offer.

  • Endless content use
  • Live streaming isn’t solely restricted to live video and audio streaming services. You have the flexibility to use a variety of forms of video content and multimedia, including pictures, text, and live chat. Live broadcasting provides a lot of flexibility to access different presentation methodologies. 

    Best bit: you can repurpose your live streams into on-demand content. This allows you to maximise viewership.

  • More engagement, more opportunities
  • Live streams are a great way of boosting interaction between you and your audience (who also happen to be your existing or potential clients). If your content is interesting to individuals in your niche or just a curious topic to outsiders, you will be given the opportunity to engage with a whole new bunch of new folks who previously may not have thought about contacting you.

    Want to stand out of the crowd? If you are streaming content live for a one time only event your stream becomes a rare and urgent entity. Streaming live events regularly with a variety of content will give your brand an excellent point of differentiation. Whichever way you go it’s a winner.

  • We can do it for you, with you
  • Surely, you did see this coming from a mile away, right? Your Brand Crew can save you a whole lotta headaches because we already have not just the tech stuff but the crew to make it happen. We also know a thing or two about content creation to assist you with ideas and full execution. So, all you have to do is drop a comment below or give us a shout via email, phone, a postal pigeon and we’ll work out the rest. See us at your next event.

    How to grow your network and get results for your business

    How to grow your network and get results for your business

    There’s no doubt about it, building your personal profile in your local networking groups is one sure way to progressively grow your business profile, and in turn, your business as a whole.

    Putting yourself in front of the right people over and over means that you are top of mind when someone needs the kind of product or service you provide. There are, however, scores of networking groups to choose from, so read on to make sure you’re getting the most from your local groups.

    Choose your networks

    Do your research on the local groups in your area. Whether you want to join a local Chamber of Commerce, a women’s business group, or something specific to your industry, understand the reason why you’re joining. 

    Ask yourself questions like; 

    • Is this where my customers are? 
    • Do these business owners have access to my customers?
    • How can these connections and my business mutually benefit one another? 

    Be careful not to commit to too many groups, or particularly those groups who may be created to benefit just the host business.  

    Plan and Execute

    Planning what you’re going to do at networking events is crucial, particularly if you’re an introvert. Set yourself a KPI of meeting 5 new people and getting their business cards. 

    Plan interesting questions to ask attendees which will generate thoughtful answers, such as:

    • What is the biggest challenge you face in your business right now?
    • Why did you decide to start your own business? 
    • What’s the next goal you’re trying to hit in your business?

    The day after the meeting, make contact with your new connections by email or social media to reinforce the relationship and remind them about you. 

    Be consistent

    Networking is a long game, but a powerful one. Over time, those who consistently work their groups become the most connected people in town. They reap rewards that not only come in the form of sales growth, but also in having a wealth of resources, tools and connections at your fingertips. Consistency isn’t days or weeks, but months and years, so choose groups of people you love to be around and settle in for the long haul.

    The old cliche, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” is relevant here. After all, people do business with people, not necessarily just with companies. 

    Warning: joining and working your local networking groups can have serious side effects. You may find that you strive to be a better person and lift your game. 

    You may also find that new friendships with great people form. If the law of averages is correct, and you become an average of the five people you spend the most time with, then that seems worth considering when you choose your groups. 

    Do you have any other tips about networking? Share them with us in the comment box below.