We all know that networking is essential, for business and also just for making life easier in general. However, sometimes the term can sound a bit daunting to people and you might wonder what exactly you have to do to be successful in networking.
Well, as a confirmed introvert who has been combining business and family at home for almost 15 years, I can tell you it’s nowhere near as scary as it sounds, and you are probably doing a bit of networking already without even realising it.
What exactly is networking anyway?
Fundamentally, networking is about bringing people together who can benefit each other. It’s about connecting accountants with hairdressers, people with holiday homes with those who want to go on vacation, and those with jobs available with those who can take them.
This doesn’t have to be at formal networking events – you can bring people together outside the school gates, at toddler groups, or even online. It’s just a matter of being curious about all the people you meet and then sharing what you know about people with other people who could benefit from this.
Successful networkers don’t just pair people up and hope for the best; they think carefully about whether the match is mutually beneficial. Do both people benefit from their relationship with each other? If they do, then it’s time to bring them together and for you to be the one who does it.
Networking isn’t well understood. Typically, people see it from their perspective and imagine that it’s about the number of people they know. But it’s more about the number of people you can bring together and help out: that’s how you get the rewards.
Become the source of all useful information
You want to be a central node of information – the person through which people meet other people. If you can do this, you suddenly become the most important person in the network, and people begin to rely on you. You become the Google of your own little world.
We all know that mum, don’t we? If you need to know anything about your local area, or you need help with a particular skill or a question you have you will always ask her. She either knows the answer herself or she can instantly introduce you to someone who can help you.
And guess what? She and her children are the really popular ones, and if she does run a business you will definitely go to her when you need whatever she does.
So how can you be that mum? How do you bring people together as a mum? What can you do to be at the centre of your particular network?
Create a Profile on Social Media
It doesn’t matter what you do; it’s a good idea to create a profile on social media. Your profile acts as a kind of hub through which people can connect with you and others in your network. You can also use your profile to add value by creating content that the people in your network might be interested in.
If you’re not running a business, you can do a lot of networking using your personal Facebook page or in What’s App groups. A lot of groups form now around classes at your children’s schools, church communities and similar. You can join the online communities that are relevant to you there, and start being interested and also being of service.
If you run a business yourself that others may be interested in then you can set up a group yourself and invite others to join you there. So for instance with this blog, I run two Facebook communities – one for Blogging Mums and another one for Natural Health Solutions.
Start Solving Local Problems
If you want to be a champion networker, says John Leo Weber of projectmanager.com it’s also a good idea to do a bit of public relations stuff in your local area.
Solving a local problem can help enormously. It doesn’t have to be a big project – just something that people will feel indebted to you for. Get involved in a cause and provide some genuine value to the people in your community, and you will automatically get people interested in who you are or what you do.
Organise Great Events
If you really want to get serious about your networking, then the best solution is to organise great events at which people can meet, be educated and entertained. If people come to one of your events and leave enriched then they will certainly remember you.
The good news is that our culture already makes it acceptable for mums to hold events, just under a different name. Your or your child’s birthday party, wedding party, holiday celebration or baby shower could become a reason to bring people together and establish yourself as a vital piece in the social jigsaw puzzle.
Great entertainment at an event is a good idea. And fortunately, thanks to sites like Alive Network, it’s easy to find. A simple search like this https://www.alivenetwork.com/hirelivemusic/hire_a_band_in.asp?area=London&style=Gospel Choirs can lead you to exactly the type of entertainment you are looking for based in your local area.
Quality performances and entertainment help to draw people to your event and get them to remember the show that you put on.
Take it all online
If the idea of holding physical real-time events and bringing lots of people together in person brings you out in a cold sweat, then you can organise online events instead.
If you are a blogger and you are reading this before September 2019, then please check out my Blogging Mums Club conference, coming to a living room sofa near you in September.
This is a great event for introverted organisers, speakers and attendees. It’s also great for busy mums who find it hard to attend in person events due to childcare constraints. We will get together in the virtual world, share information and help each other, but without all the faff of hiring venues, caterers, entertainers and babysitters.
Networking in the modern world can take all kinds of forms. Get out there, join in, or become the centre of it all. It’s up to you to find out what works best for you.