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October 2021

Business networking for beginners – what you need to know to be a great networker

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Business networking for beginners – what you need to know to be a great networker

If you are a new business owner, you are probably wondering about the best way to market your business. There are many ways but one of the very best ways in word of mouth. So, with that in mind, here’s a guide on how to be successful at business networking for beginners.

What is business networking?

Business networking provides like-minded business owners with an opportunity to come together in a supportive environment to help nurture and grow their businesses.

When you first start networking, you may be unsure of the etiquette of your group, but you can quickly get a feel for how things work and what’s acceptable conduct.

Who would benefit?

Any business owner in any industry can benefit from business networking, but being a good networker is a skill. For beginners, business networking might feel a little uncomfortable until you get used to the format and get to know the others in your group, but at Athena, I often get great feedback when visitors come to meetings, with everyone commenting on how supportive the group is.

Our meetings

Be aware that although we have a formal meeting structure – introduction, share contact details, business presentation, monthly business minutes from members, 2nd presentation, let’s talk business, notices, we aren’t a high-pressure networking group with lots of strict rules. You don’t have to always bring visitors or get new members to join and you don’t have to demonstrate how much business you have referred like other networks such as BNI. We do how expect attendance at each monthly meeting and if you can’t come, you should provide a substitute who can attend in your place.

Is there anyone who wouldn’t benefit?

Business owners who are unable to give to the network in terms of being present at meetings, being supportive of other members and listening and responding to others’ needs are unlikely to get the most out of business networking. If you think networking is simply about turning up to a meeting and selling your products or services to people in the room, then you’ve really got the wrong idea about how it works.

What are the benefits of business networking for beginners?

Support

Small business owners often need more individual support than those who work in larger businesses. When you don’t have work colleagues it can be easy to feel a bit isolated and alone. Getting support and encouragement from your business network can really boost your confidence and help you feel part of a team.

Collaborations

One of the biggest benefits of business networking for beginners is that you immediately get exposure to other business owners who you may be able to work with. Creating a joint product or service with another member can give your business an additional income stream and give you a colleague to bounce ideas off.

Training – skills and knowledge

Business networking groups are a great source of business knowledge that can help you overcome issues and reach your goals faster. At Athena, at each meeting there are two presentations designed to share business skills and knowledge to help you run your business more successfully. In addition, sometimes group members who run training courses will offer free or discounted workshops to the business network – a very valuable perk of membership.

The Athena Network – a female business networking group to suit you

The Athena Network is a women-only business networking organisation. I run 5 groups – in Watford, Rickmansworth, Bushey, Harrow and Kings Langley, although now these groups meet online for the monthly meeting and our monthly coffee morning.  We also meet in person once a month for a regional event which could be a coffee morning, business brunch, lunch or afternoon tea! We also have optional social events from time to time. When it comes to business networking, beginners are always welcome at any of my groups, so please do come and visit.

If you aren’t sure about online networking, you aren’t alone but there are some great benefits being online that you can enjoy from an in-person group.

If you have any questions about business networking, please just get in contact on debbie.diggle@theathenanetwork.com or connect with me on LinkedIn.