7 things I never could have learnt without networking

I know that people seem to either love or hate networking. I’ve had my mix of good events and those that have left a bad taste in my mouth but networking has supported me so much with my business, I wanted to share with you how it could be beneficial for your business and to encourage you to give it a go yourself.

I’ve built up some great relationships and learned some brilliant skills through networking, so here’s my overview of the 7 things I never could have learnt if I hadn’t plucked up the courage to attend events.

1. How to use social media

It is through networking that I first learnt how to use social media to market my business. I was then able to develop that skill to support my clients with social media management too.

I honestly had no idea how to use social media for marketing when I first started my business. I was using Facebook but wasn’t sure how to go about promoting my business with it; I was more used to sharing photos with friends on my personal profile!

It was through my first online networking group that I learnt invaluable skills for both Facebook and Twitter that I still use today and met some fantastic social media experts full of advice and tricks of the trade that have helped me along the way.

2. Email marketing

You might think this one a little bizarre as email marketing is something I’m known for as an online business consultant, but I knew nothing about it when I first started Banks’ Business Solutions.

It was through networking that I quickly learnt how much of a need there was for MailChimp support out there and as one of the most popular platforms with small business owners; I made the decision to train and develop my skills so I could offer it as a service.

3. That a VA isn’t just an admin assistant or outsourced PA

The VA world is a vast one and with an endless number and type of tasks offered by people working virtually, it’s wrong to assume that a VA is just an outsourced admin assistant. It’s one that I thought to be true when I started out with my own virtual assistant business but having met many VAs who offer everything from bookkeeping to SEO, I now know that I was wrong.

That’s partly the reason why I’ve transitioned from calling myself a VA to online business consultant, to hopefully help others avoiding the same assumption about me as I offer so much more than admin support.

4. Collaboration is key to growing a business

Starting a business is one thing but growing that business is quite another. It was through networking and talking to other business owners about their business growth that I realised there was one thing they all had in common – collaboration.

It’s difficult enough running a business by yourself when you have so many hats to wear, many belonging to tasks that you have zero experience in. When you grow your business, you still have to manage those tasks but suddenly take on a whole lot more. The only way to juggle both is by not juggling at all, outsourcing to trusted professionals to take care of time zapping tasks for you and seeking advice from people that are already a step ahead of you to help your business grow.

5. Being authentic is the best sales tactic

I think those of us who genuinely love sales are in the minority among. It’s difficult to do, you often feel that you have to become a different version of yourself to make yourself more likable and relatable to the audience you’re trying to sell to, and it doesn’t feel good.

People see through dishonesty but being authentically you and offering help will make you stick out in people’s minds for the right reasons. You’ll find more people are attracted to you because they relate to your authentic self and that is so much more meaningful and long-lasting than short-term sales strategies focused on quantity over quality.

6. People need to see you to connect

Networking works so well because people have the opportunity to see you, meet you and find out more about you.  It can be difficult to fit in a busy work schedule though, add family life on top and it can be a real struggle to attend the many networking events that are out there (and why I love virtual networking so much).

One way to overcome this is to share videos of yourself on your social media talking about what you do, sharing tips and tricks, talking about a new industry update, etc can help people see the authentic you in the comfort of their own home and start to build a rapport with you.

When I started to share videos, my prospect list grew overnight as people related to me on another level and it really helped me take my business to the next level.

7. Those you meet at networking become more than just colleagues

This might sound a bit cliché but it’s true, the people you meet through networking will become your self-employed family and friends. The right networking group will provide you with all the support you need to survive, grow and develop your business.

So, there we have it. 7 things I learned through networking, I wonder what you might learn? I urge you to check out your nearest networking events and attend a meeting to discover how beneficial they can be for you and remember that real-time meetings don’t work for everyone and there are virtual, online meetings you can attend too.