To Network or Not? – This Is The Question?

Jane Kenyon is a serial entrepreneur, speaker, coach and founder of The Well Heeled Divas Ltd.

“In the past 16 years I have been involved in 9 businesses all focused in the business to business sector including consultancy, training, lifestyle management, IT, PR and networking. I have made money and lost it all twice, got myself embroiled in a few partnership deals I should never have touched and experienced some major highs selling businesses and acquiring others. But I have never lost my passion for business.”

“In 2007 I founded the Well Heeled Divas, an organisation focused on female empowerment with a pretty big vision – to inspire 1 million women to step up to entrepreneurship, leadership and wealth contribution, who in turn, will inspire 1 million young girls to raise their aspirations, believe in themselves and shine.”

Each month Jane shares her views on our business theme. This month Jane is a consummate networker and it is fantastic to get her views here!.

As someone who has generated well over half a million in revenue from networking over the last 5 years the answer to this question is a no brainer! But and it’s a big BUT – I am a people centred entrepreneur. I am in my flow on my feet, upfront and out and about. The thought of walking into a room wall to wall with strangers is a serious challenge for many but a room of possibilities for someone like me!

However, this view is NOT universal. For many the temptation to ‘give it a miss this time’ is too great to fight against. You see some people are natural ‘front of house’ and others more comfortable orchestrating behind the scenes and in my view, it is pointless spending time and money cajoling them to reverse their roles. We should empower people to shine and this only happens when we are allow them to stay true to their personality.

I love meeting new people and therefore I am a natural networker but it is not simply about building rapport at the event that creates leverage. The clue is in the name – networking! The work carries on long after the initial introduction. Relationships need to be nurtured and kept alive and this requires pro-activity and more people skills!

There are a myriad of workshops and seminars on the art of networking, promoting the rules of the game, like…

* How to perfect the correct handshake
* Which side of your lapel to wear your name badge (what if you don’t have a lapel??)
* How to introduce yourself
* How to work the room
* How to create your elevator pitch

And if networking is a daunting prospect for you, some of this stuff may help, but if you are a natural they are totally unnecessary and likely to hinder your flow.

At its core networking is about relationship building NOT selling. So often it is seen as either a bit of a jolly or a competition to see how many business cards you can collect and give out.

But the bottomline … In today’s referral driven business environment, networking is the cornerstone of the marketing plan and here to stay. I would just think carefully about who is the best person to send along to represent your business?

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