Six ways in which networking can help you meet your needs as a business owner
Running your own business can be very satisfying but can also be tough! I come across a lot of business owners who are feeling stressed, busy to the point of being overwhelmed.
Sometimes we can feel so busy that we feel we don’t have time to go to a network meeting, but here are six ways in which networking can help you if you run your own business (and it’s not all about getting those sales!):
1. Certainty – life as a business owner, particularly if we’re just starting out, can be quite uncertain… Will people buy from me, will they come to my workshop, where will my next big contract come from? I find that having some predictability in my schedule (eg knowing where I’ll be on say Wednesday at 10am, knowing what the format of the meeting will be) can be calming!
2. Variety – to stop us from getting bored, we need a bit of variety in our (working) lives! I find that getting out to different meetings, seeing different people, hearing different talks can help me to get a balance between certainty and uncertainty (variety).
3. Significance – we all need to feel significant to others, or in our community. Now that I don’t have a fancy job title (I’m no longer a Team Leader, a Delivery Leader or a Continuous Improvement Leader), networking gives me opportunities to introduce myself as a business owner, and talk about my business (alongside lots of listening of course!) Taking it further, we can really meet our need for significance if we take the opportunity of a speaking slot – who doesn’t remember the speaker at a meeting?
4. Connection – connection to others is so important and can be a big gap for ‘solopreneurs’ who may find it a bit lonely working on their own. It can be a bit of a shock to the system if you have recently left employment where you were surrounded with people to chat to, to congratulate you on your successes and have a bit of banter with… It may also be hard to talk to family and friends as they might not ‘get it’, might not understand the rollercoaster ride that is running your own business. Networking meets my need for connection with other like-minded individuals, people to share the highs and lows, tips, and have coffee with.
5. Growth – networking can provide a cost-effective way to continue growing and learning as a business owner. Each meeting, talk and conversation provides me with opportunities to learn. We therefore grow as a person (I’m thinking personal development rather than waistline!) as well as growing our network.
6. Contribution – contribution to others beyond ourselves. Networking is full of chances to help others – to help them to make connections, to help them to spread the word about their business, to share success strategies.
Next time you’re not sure you ‘have time’ for networking or you’re not sure about the ‘return on investment’, perhaps it’s worth thinking about your needs and what networking can give you – in addition to spreading the word about your and your business!
I’ll be getting my core needs met at networking meetings over the next few weeks – will I see you there?
(For more on our core human needs, see for example http://www.ted.com/talks/tony_robbins_asks_why_we_do_what_we_do?language=en)
Sian Rowsell is an effective coach and facilitator, helping people enjoy a more fulfilling life in and outside of work. She offers individual coaching on a one-to-one basis and runs confidential business development groups for women business owners. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.sianrowsell.co.uk