Do you feel like you want to get out there and be more visible as a small business owner in 2021?
Maybe you’d like to meet more clients, go for award nominations, or to network and learn from your peers?
Networking is a key part of your marketing as a small business owner. But it doesn’t have to happen in the way you think it does. One persons joyful energising event is anothers painful soul sucking experience. Finding the way to network that works for you, especially at the moment is really critical to enjoying it.
Someone who knows a lot about networking is Joanne Dewberry, who recently wrote her second book Finding your Tribe-Networking a Successful Small Business
I had the pleasure of interviewing Joanne on the Self Employed Club Instagram account
as part of the January 2021 social media challenge.
Joanne wrote her book as the founder of a networking franchise, Networking Mummies, and current co-host of Lemur Linkup a monthly regional networking event. I first became aware of Joanne when I reviewed her book for Parents in Business Magazine in Issue 9 of Parents in Biz magazine I said then that I thought it was a very valuable resource for small business owners.
During our conversation which you can view here (do skip the first 2 minutes because I had some trouble getting Joanne into the conversation, all my fault but we do go on for another 50 minutes of useful discussion) Joanne gave us so many great insights that I wanted to just recap here for anyone who hasn’t got time to view the full video right now.
10 Great Networking Points from Joanne Dewberry
Like everything else networking is a skill that you will learn over time. No one starts out able to use Facebook or build a website. You are always learning. If you find it difficult at the start, it won’t always be that way.
Networking has a reputation problem, it is seen as people in suits handing out cards, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Networking isn’t just about meeting lots of people you don’t know but building better relationships with people you do. Don’t look at it with the thought of a short term gain, go with the idea of building a community to help and support.
Find a group to suit you. A breakfast group may not suit you if you have children to sort out in the morning, an evening group might be hard if you are tired after a full day with the children. Looking for something you can go to during the day with your children possibly might be the way forward at that time in your life. Or when lockdown allows, holding a walk and talk networking event might also work well. It can be outdoor, it doesn’t have to be in a room with an expert speaker
Whenever you get together with other business owners you are going to talk business. So the actual activity you do together is less important. Traditional style networking involves coffee and meeting people before a talk, but being in a Facebook group that delivers great value for you in the form of accountability threads, or supportive community is just as valued a form of networking.
Twitter hours are a great way of widening your network , there are lots like Elevensies Hour which happens every week day at 11. Lots of small business owners use it to take their coffee break. You can just show up and chat to others for an hour. This is a very valid way of networking especially now with the pandemic limiting face to face interaction.
Facebook groups are another source of constant networking and support. There are so many. They lead to the organic conversations that are the best for connecting and getting to know people.
Include networking every day by having one thing that you do that links you to other people. Whatever that is. It could be joining in a Twitter hour, it could be messaging one person. If it involves you interacting with someone else then it counts as networking.
Not everyone can be in your inner circle as a business owner, and your network will thrive best if they are not. Weak links are just as important because that is how you widen your network.
Talk to the host at networking events because they will help you to meet others that will be relevant to you, because the host really knows the group already.
It is always good to have a network of people who understand exactly what you are going through because they are in the same boat. That is one big benefit of creating a network. Joanne also mentioned two fantastic books that she has read recently (apart from her own!) She Means Business by Carrie Green - Great resource with bite sized chapters. PR School by Natalie Trice - Accessible PR handbook with lots of useful information from other people to add value.
Thank you so much to Joanne for taking part in the conversation. And thanks to you for listening if you could, or reading this recap.
If you would like to hear more about events like this, do sign up to my mailing list where I share marketing tips each Friday, and a list of any current Self Employed Club events
And for a copy of Joannes book here is a link!
What to read next
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Shona Chambers Marketing is a Marketing Agency based in SE London. Specialising in helping Small Business Owners and Freelancers with their Marketing.