In this guest post Heather Townsend looks at why the really savvy mumpreneurs are using both online and offline networking tools and techniques in their quest to generate referrals when networking.
I’ve bet you’ve found, like me, that unless you have an enlightened group like Mums The Boss near you, business face-to-face networking and childcare responsibilities don’t mix. I have yet to find a child minder who will start at 06:00 in the morning to allow me to attend a weekly BNI meeting.
Similar to myself, many successful mumpreneurs are now using social networking as the main tool in their business networking strategy – are you one of them?
But many mumpreneurs fall into the trap of thinking online OR face-to-face networking, rather than combining the two different types of networking for maximum effect. Did you know that LinkedIn and Twitter are fantastic tools for keeping in touch with people after meeting them at an event? Wouldn’t your life as a networker be SO much easier if you could actually book some time to meet up with someone at a networking event – rather than leaving it all to chance? Did you know that you can normally use LinkedIn & Twitter to make contact with someone at a face-to-face networking event, BEFORE the event?
Let’s talk about the time pressures which you face as a mumpreneur. If it’s not being at the beck and call of your family all day long, it’s your business crying out for your attention. If you are anything like me your to do list is never ending – and with the typical demands that your business places on you it is not always possible to get to a physical networking event. But, your marketing and business plans rely on your growing and maintaining a network? This is where online networking has the edge over face-to-face networking. It is always possible to indulge in some online networking in the odd 5 minutes of the day.
Many business owners are fantastic at gaining opportunities via social media and so have discounted the possibilities that face-to-face networking can bring. Face-to-face networking doesn’t have to mean attending a formal networking group. Do you have your networking hat on when at social events? You never know what possibilities a toddler group, hen or stag weekend may offer… At a recent 40th birthday party for my brother-in-law, I received a great lead from another one of my relations. When attending events organised by your children’s school, are you thinking about who could be a useful contact for your business?
With the arrival of social networking, a networker’s tool kit is now huge. But, just as you wouldn’t use a hammer to crack a nut, knowing which tool for which job is the key to networking effectively and efficiently. There are definitely times when face-to-face has the edge, and times when online networking tools are better. The trouble is that most networkers get into a comfort zone, and tend to stick with what they know – and for many networkers that means being blinkered and choosing online OR face-to-face networking. Our conclusion is to use BOTH on-line and face-to-face networking tools in your networking strategy and plan. It’s the most efficient way!
What are your thoughts?
Heather Townsend is the Author of ‘The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking’ and specialises in helping ambitious professional practices grow. Heather regularly blogs at partnership potential and joined up networking.