Your network is everything nowadays, as a 19-year-old digital marketing apprentice, this is one of the biggest things I have learned since I started my career, since then, last October, I have attended a fair variety of the events that Manchester has to offer including GMCC, The Business Network, BNI’s and a few others as well as taking time to grow my network through an important and sometimes overlooked part of networking being sites such as LinkedIn and other social media’s.
The benefits of having a large network are endless, starting out in a career you will learn it’s not all about what you know a lot of the time it’s also who you know, I was referred to my apprenticeship through a family member which gave me an edge against some of the competition, since then I have tried to expand my network and build good relationships as that’s how opportunities in life and in business are more likely to come my way. For personal networks, this could help you advance your career, experience new things, etc and in business, a wider network can find the best staff, grow your sales and reach your target audience better, for example at a BNI meeting each member gets to stand up each week and explain what they do to the room and ask for an introduction to whoever they want and with 40+ members per chapter there’s a strong likelihood that someone will be able to put you in contact with who you’re looking for.
Attending an event is all well and good but how can you make sure you gain from the time spent doing so? One of the biggest tips I have found is to plan ahead, the question you are most likely going to be asked while networking other than your name is “what do you do?” and so many people fall at this hurdle because they don’t have a set answer to this which leads to confusion in the conversation, especially in business networking. At CFM we aim to speak to 5 new people at every event we attend and have a clear set of questions we use to qualify who we are speaking to, once the questions come back to us we have a clear answer for that dreaded “what do you do?” question. This question is always going to get asked while networking so the best way to deal with it is by coming up with an answer that is true to your business but leaves the person asking how and then following up with examples to better explain your business, this will create a better conversation as well as leaving others with a better knowledge of what you do. This is all the result of preplanning before we go to an event to ensure we get the best out of our time there and I recommend you do this too!
If you’d like to attend an event with us, for example, we are apart of BNI’s Alchemy chapter in Northenden, Manchester and would love to bring as many guests as we can, then be sure to follow our Social Media Pages, @CFMHub or connect with Sam Cottrell on LinkedIn via our employee section on the CFM LinkedIn page!