I had an interesting experience the other day. I was invited to UJ (University of Johannesburg) to do my Networking presentation to the 3rd (I think) year Marketing students – about 200 of them.
Ok, it’s not just you – I also thought it was a very strange request, but hey – I’ve learnt not to judge.
Turns out that there is no material around on how to use Networking as your marketing and since the lecturer knows me from years ago and understands that all of my business comes from Networking and therefore all of my Marketing is in fact Networking, she called me in to do the presentation. How weird is that? I mean really, how can your Marketing not include Networking? For me that’s really bizarre!
For small businesses, who don’t have deep pockets or extremely large budgets, the simplest, most effective and cheapest way to market yourself, your product, your service is through Networking. I’ve said so before and I will most probably say it again, in my opinion, Networking is the most affordable, important and powerful business tool that is available to SMME’s (Small, Medium, Micro Enterprises).
The problem as I see it is that people don’t know how to Network effectively. Just because you have work at this particular time, it doesn’t mean that you can stop Networking. Just because you find yourself in the middle of a recession, it doesn’t mean that you can stop Networking. Just because you don’t get to sign a deal at the Networking meeting that you went to last night, doesn’t mean that you should stop Networking. Networking should be something that is second nature to you and it should be something that you do all the time, while you’re waiting in the queue at the bank, sitting watching your kids playing sport or at a formal Networking meeting and/or event – you should be Networking.
You need to find out where you are most comfortable Networking, whether it is at a Networking meeting/dinner/breakfast or at a conference or exhibition or a workshop/seminar or what about charity events or even socially – whatever is more comfortable for you, is where you will be the most successful at Networking, as long as you are Networking.
Remember though that Networking is not about doing business, it’s about meeting people, building relationships and building trust and respect. Once those are in place – doing the business is the next natural step.