Recession is looming, uncertainty is rife and no one knows what the future may bring.
We’re in unparalleled times, we don’t know if we’ll be heading into another lockdown or how our businesses may be affected long term. Making sense of today is not easy and it’s hard to make too many plans. Right now, many of us are feeling powerless.
How do you keep up business connections when we’re still not able to meet face to face? How can you prepare yourself and your business for an impending recession? One useful way to future proof is to build and maintain your personal and professional networks.
However, these days we’ve all had to adapt and in-person networking events are, for the moment, a thing of the past. But that doesn’t mean you can’t build a strong network - we’ve just got to look at this differently, think outside the box and come up with a new strategy.
Why a strong network is so valuable
Business is all about connecting with people. We must not underestimate the importance of business relationships. Having a strong network can help you raise your profile, meet new customers and suppliers, develop your knowledge, explore new ideas, find investment, establish partnerships and build a presence in other markets. Plus the people you meet can help you to create ideas, build operations and solve problems.
In today’s remote networking market, you need to be savvy and strategise. Why? Well we can’t do it all and there is less opportunity for serendipity and ‘random’ sparky conversations that initiate action. Working out who you want to build relationships with is vital - here’s a few top tips on how you can build a clear, concise and focused networking strategy:
What are your goals to achieve from networking? Who do you want to connect with? Think of your networking strategy as part of your marketing activity for your business. Having a clear roadmap of who you are looking to connect with, what you want to achieve and your ROI goals can help to crystallise plans. This isn’t about turning a network into a transactional relationship but about creating mutual opportunities… what can you offer? Be clear about yourself.
Reach out to existing contacts
You most likely have many excellent contacts already but may not have been in touch with them recently. Nurture those existing relationships by setting up a virtual coffee, share some interesting content and engage on a personal level. Or consider a socially distanced meet up - why not try something new such as a walk? Or a new location to suit home working. You have nothing to lose and possibly much to gain.
Unite with other businesses
Collaborate with businesses who have a service or product that will complement your current offer. This could also mean you could share contacts, clients and referrals providing mutual benefit to both companies.
Learn from others
Just because another business might operate in a different market to you, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn from each other. Sharing resources, information and knowledge from varied businesses can help you to think outside the box, approach challenges from a different angle, consider new opportunities and take your business forward.
Want to be seen as an expert in your field? One way is to support other businesses by sharing your experiences - good and bad - guiding others to avoid similar mistakes. This can be a great way to build a positive reputation, to market yourself and being nice goes a long way. It may lead to recommendations and referrals, too.
How the Chamber can help get you started
Come along to Zoom around the Room - the Chamber’s popular online networking event. Not only are our events known to be the best in the region, they offer a chance to meet many like-minded business people through a series of break-out sessions.
The Chamber can also help with facilitated introductions - getting you in front of the right people. We ourselves have a vast network with thousands of local businesses we can connect you with. This service is only open to Chamber members. Contact us to find more on 0800 980 2789.
"The Business West Chamber networking event I never miss. As well as being a regular direct and indirect source of business for me I have met some very very interesting people there" Greg Cooper, Marketing and LinkedIn Coach