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When I founded my business in April 2014, I had no idea what I was going to do about paying the bills. Being lucky to have someone take a chance on me was a blessing, but temptation is to believe that that is always the way business is done. You may unconsciously choose not to move forward - rather you remain in a comfort zone of consistency, the goal you want to achieve remaining out of arms length, forever!

That's where learning about #Networking comes in.

It is quite hard to believe now, but I was not (and am still not) a natural at Networking, however learning HOW to network is essential in today's world. Indeed, it's often the people you build relationships with that keep you going during the long-slog, the lonely times and of course, they are the people who are key to your sales too.

I read a few 'how to' network books (picking nice easy reads with illustrations too!) and then every opportunity I could I attended an event and practiced. I look back and cringe! (They say you have to do something three times consistently before you can judge whether it works, that means many more times attending to perfect a consistent three times of practice!)

Constant reminders that 'your network is your net worth' or 'it's not what you know, it's who you know', had just one reaction from me - the eye-roll! Business cliches - I hate them, however they are real and therefore you need to give them at least a little credit! I did, along with making it my own way once I had found my niche! 

I cannot emphasise enough the importance of blocking out mornings, lunches or evenings to perfect the skill. To give you a head-start without the book and illustrations, here are my top three tips. 

  1. Be positive - no one wants to meet a grumpy, direct and pushy sales person. If you are a cold and closed person, leave that bravado at the door. People buy from people, so if you aren't going to be nice, you aren't going to build relationships!

2. Imagine yourself as a 'fly on the wall' - reflect on how you are standing, uncross those arms, soften your responses and, most of all LISTEN to others! Walk back out of the room feeling proud that you have had conversations with people who may or may not buy from you, but that may recommend you. If you notice yourself feeling uninterested, excuse yourself politely and move to the next person.

3. Perfect that 'Killer Question' - this is so important! I have had the most success through practicing my response to the 'What do you do?' question. To answer this you need the following:

  • Clarity - one sentence only
  • Credibility - who you work with or what your background is
  • Problem you solve - might not be a problem, but look at it this way and you show how you add value!
  • The solution - get your business name in and a concise statement is best

It is only this evening that I seem to have perfected my reply, so if you like it, you can base your 'Answering The Killer Question' on this, working, example!

" I am Nicola and companies come to me for cost, time and quality delivery of their infrastructure or construction projects. I have worked for Thames Water, UK Power Networks and many other big companies.

The problem with so many companies is not recognising the savings made by engaging professional Project Managers from the start, so lucky we also provide ‘rescue Project Management’ as a solution to this challenge. 

My business is called ‘Diligence’ which reflects the qualities I have as an individual and that to which the business provides to our Client. "

Now it's your turn - try out those three tips at the next networking event you attend, if you are in the North Kent/Dartford area, then please follow me on Twitter to find out where you can practice with me on hand to support you!

Oh, and to show how far I have come, I now host a Networking evening as a Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce Ambassador! Thanks for reading, feel free to share!


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