Ask yourself this question. What is the value of a single contact to my business, maybe a business-owner or director who, over time I have got to know? And now let us look at some of the possible answers.
Obviously, this contact could be a potential customer – but they could also be a source of useful information; a ‘sounding-board’ for your ideas; someone to offer encouragement and emotional support; a supplier, either to you or one of your clients; they could refer business to you; they may offer complementary products or services that could add value for your own customers – a collaboration that may even allow you to trade in different sectors or with larger organisations. All this from just a single contact – and the great thing is, this one contact is looking at you and seeing exactly the same value.
The point of networking is to establish such relationships – a business-lifetime of connections, all contributing to an invaluable ‘support-network’ of contacts.
Pros and cons of socially-distant networking
COVID-19 has changed everything. It has resulted in a fundamental shift in how networks operate. Technology has stepped in to allow virtual meetings to be held via video platforms such as Zoom, TeamViewer, BlueJeans and the like. Although a generalisation, there is an irony in the fact good networkers are ‘people people’, and now they are required to leave their comfort zone, adopt new technologies and learn new skills.
One benefit that has arisen from the crisis is that now the geographical barriers to networking have been swept aside. I have personally been organising monthly events in Exeter, London and Manchester for many years. During that time if members wanted to access another marketplace and establish contacts in that location they needed to travel. Now we link members via a Zoom event, bringing together 100 senior decision-makers without them needing to leave their working environment, saving time, money and the planet!