Networking – Does size really matter?

Over the last few years I have spent a lot of time networking in and around Berkshire. I have sampled lots of different groups from ladies only to mixed, informal just turn up style to structured and more formal.  One thing I have noticed is how some people are very focused on the numbers. The assumption is that the more people attending a meeting the more successful it will be. But is this really the case?

In my experience no it isn’t.  I have been to very busy informal networking and ended up coming away feeling less than inspired.  My conversations have been constantly interrupted, my coffee has been spilled as everyone is pushing past and I often feel like I haven’t had a chance to really get to know anyone or understand what they are actually offering. The only real result is to arrive home with a big pile of business cards!

On other occasions I have turned up at a networking event to only see a handful of people attending. However at the end I have left feeling uplifted and motivated. There has been some great conversations, I have made interesting new connections. Often a small group allows better interaction to take place and often business issues might be discussed and brainstormed as it is easy to get everyone involved.

My advice is to try different styles of networking and always keep an open mind. Take your business cards, your marketing materials and most importantly an approachable smile. Have a clear 40 second – 1 minute business introduction up your sleeve and go with the flow.  You might be very surprised at the results.

The confusing world of social media and the small business


I was recently asked to present to a networking group on the subject of social media.  There is so much talk about social media and so many options that it is easy to get confused and struggle to get started.

However if a few simple steps are taken it can be relatively pain free undertaking.

Firstly spend time thinking about your objectives and what you want achieve.  Is it increasing traffic to your website or to demonstrate expertise and thought leadership?

Then identify the social media platforms that are best suited to help you achieve your objectives.  For example blogging, LinkedIn and twitter may suit thought leadership campaigns, whilst Facebook and twitter might be better suited for getting better access to customers. It is easy to assume that they are all good for your business and a mistake that can cost you significantly in time.

My advice would be do not dive in until you are ready and have a clear strategy.

At the end of the presentation I had one member say that he had a very specific target customer and approached them directly so he really didn’t see why time and effort should be focused on social media.

My response was – It all comes back to having clear objectives and thinking beyond the immediate here and now.  How about those people who are just outside the target? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to grow the business reputation and start building relationships as one day they may be a target customer!