Well, Who Do You Know?...
Isolation and introspection can be deadly failings for new business people. Involvement and inclusion are the antidotes, with networking the brand name of the cure.
With all the demands on your time made by your business, professional and personal life, it is tempting to give a low priority to meeting new people. After all, you will have so many commitments to your new business and to your colleagues, family and friends, that it will be difficult to set aside extra time to
bring even more people into your life.
This thinking would be wrong, however, on two levels. For one, you are constantly being introduced to new people anyway, every day, with no disruption to your schedules. Secondly, by not consistently widening your circle of acquaintances and contacts, you will be severely curtailing your business chances of success.
Networking – meeting useful people - will provide your start-up and growing business with numerous benefits: you will not be working alone, but will benefit from the knowledge and experience of others who are also starting or growing their own business.
Knowledge really is power in business. You cannot acquire knowledge without connecting with other people and from a business point of view; networking provides an organised, structured and powerful way of making those connections. The benefits of networking are numerous: network participants, typically, learn better practice from their peers and acquire sales and development opportunities; find a wider choice of suppliers, increase sales opportunities and learn how to cut costs. Both you and your business will benefit. The process leads to new contacts and new friendships. Through networking, you will
no longer be isolated. Networking can be both a reality check for your business, and provide free market research.
Gaining from Networks
If you and your business are going to gain from being members of a network it is most important that you approach it in the right frame of mind. Experience shows that people who are driven entirely by their own agendas usually get less than they expect. If you participate to give as much as to receive, you will
find that your ‘giving’ is reflected back. It is, therefore, important to be open, to give and take. Not listening is bad networking!
Developing good formal networking skills will provide you with the key to keeping ahead of the competition. To make the most of your networking opportunities make sure you develop a three-minute informal presentation on your business, yourself, your products and services: -
- Be open - Openness generates trust;
- Listen: value your new contacts;
- Ask questions about your new contact’s business and background: everyone carries an extensive
network with them;
- Give if you wish to receive;
- Bring your business cards, brochures, or DVDs;
- Introduce yourself and others;
- Keep moving and meet as many people as possible;
- Plan to establish at least two new contacts;
- Give referrals;
- Don’t be afraid to state what you are interested in and ask what the other person is looking for;
- Follow up within seven days by phone, email or letter.
There are networks and opportunities to network everywhere. Sports clubs - Rugby, GAA, Sailing, Golf or whatever - provide opportunities for you to meet people with similar interests. Members may be business people, like you, professionals or involved in key trades.
- Fingal County Enterprise Board responds to the networking needs of businesses and will provide you with the most up to date information on networking opportunities in your area. The Enterprise Board networks provide a good platform for networking, sharing ideas and putting you in contact with like-minded people whose experience and knowledge can help you solve the day-to-day problems of business and exploit the opportunities. Within networks, there are shared experiences, friendships to
be made and also new opportunities to develop your business, make sales or find new suppliers.
- Fingal Business Network is open to owner/managers of newly established businesses in the Fingal
area (typically businesses in operation up to 3 years). It provides owner/ managers with the opportunity to share problems, learn from others, build network of contacts and grow & develop ideas and/or business. The aims of the Fingal Business Network are:
- to provide access to experts on start up;
- to provide management development opportunities to owner/managers;
- to facilitate networking amongst peers;
- to provide a platform for trade between network members and introducing potential buyers from
larger established businesses.
- Fingal Women in Business Network is a dynamic and inspirational network that supports existing and upcoming women entrepreneurs in the Fingal area. Meeting on a monthly basis, the growing membership includes entrepreneurs from all industries and disciplines (professionals, artists, craftspeople) and provides a forum for sharing, developing relationships, learning and socialising. This network allows members to learn about business from both their peers and recognised successful entrepreneurs, grow their contact base and network and develop strategic awareness in all
critical areas for business – creating a greater opportunity for their success in business.
- The Internet provides great networking opportunities both at home and globally. Some useful websites to check out are: http://www.linkedin.com/; http://www.facebook.ie/; http://www.plaxo.com/; http://www.twitter.com/...
- PLATO Dublin is an advanced networking forum for businesses that have been up and running for
at least 2-3 years and have growth potential. The network is led by owner-managers of small businesses
and facilitated by middle and senior managers from large “parent” companies. These parent companies
provide experienced executives to support you and your fellow ownermanagers.
- The Small Firms Association (SFA) is the national organisation exclusively representing the needs
of small enterprises in Ireland. The SFA provides economic, commercial, employee relations and social affairs advice and assistance, as well as networking opportunities for its more than 8,000 members.
- Chambers of Commerce represent the interests of businesses, both large and small and offer significant
opportunities for you to promote your business and to network with other members.
- Skillnets Limited is the enterprise-led support body that enhances the skills of people in employment to support competitiveness and employability.