“I learned about Home Grown from Jaime Morgan Hitchcock and Isobel showed me around. I wanted a club where I could hold events and have a space to host clients for meetings, the networking came as a surprise bonus! There is such a great and open community of entrepreneurs and business leaders sharing their ideas here (…) I love the energy of the club and I always leave feeling positive and refreshed”
Networking is a word we hear all too often in the entrepreneurial community. Some of us excel at it and the rest cringe at the thought of sparking up random conversations that can get awkward.
We know the benefits of successful networking, but let’s start with the basics:
How should we approach networking?
Is there a specific time and place for it?
Should we set expectations of what we aim to achieve from networking?
Our Home Grown community has developed a strong and supportive community of entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders that constantly network and grow their connections. We sat down with one of our members, Marc Cox, Business Coach and Author of ‘The Business Case for Love’. Why Marc? He is an excellent networker and communicator, he effortlessly works through any room he’s in and has built over several good connections in the club in over a year.
Based on my calculations, there’s a 99.73937% chance that if you’re a member, you know Marc and you’ve had a conversation with him.
Here’s his quick and easy 3 point guide on networking:
Go up and say hello
Marc enjoys going to the Meet the member sessions, and not just at the networking events, but everywhere in the club! As he puts it, “Home Grown breaks down the barriers around the etiquette of meeting people. Wherever you are in the club, people are always open for a chat and I make it a point to chat to someone that might have been in the same room as me for the past few hours and this has led to some amazing connections”.
We asked Marc which interactions stood out – “I remember sitting in the Blandford room for hours and right in front of me was Lauren from SnugSofa. At the end of the day, I approached her and said it would be rude not to introduce myself since we’ve been in the same space for so many hours. We got to talking and I found out about her business and it turns out my wife knew a lot about SnugSofa (she is an interior designer), and I got to know Rob and Lauren better as well”.
Another good example would be Joe, the co-Founder of Tastymates. We often chat about his business, and we’ve been talking about creating an authentic story and his marketing lead has read my book as well, which might have touched on some key points that might be of interest to her”.
Follow it up
The conversation doesn’t end there. It’s important to follow it up, and Marc shares that he loves to drop a message on LinkedIn after thanking people for the conversation and inserting the link to his book for them to know a little better about what he works on. Sometime that sparks a longer conversation, with some buying his book and even going for coffee after. “I’ve had some good conversations like Teruyoshi, the good Japanese chap that bought my book and we had a lot of discussion points to share afterwards.”
Be Curious & Listen
“Many times, people don’t listen. They come into a networking setting ready to sell and talk about themselves, but they are never keen to listen.” That just puts the other individual off. Marc says: “As weird as it sounds, networking events almost work like speed dating in a sense; you have a chance to chat for 5-10 minutes and you should not force a connection or outcome”. “I met Nic Pillow at the Meet the Members session and we always have a good conversation and gravitate towards each other in the room. I am curious to find out what’s happening with the businesses he’s working on and he always listens to my perspectives on it”.
To be clear, coming to a networking event and talking to an investor for 5-10minutes does not mean you’re going to secure business funding. While miracles can happen, more often than not, networking relies on a softer approach. It is about building a professional relationship and understanding each other’s backgrounds and ambitions instead of a quick transactional interaction. That’s exactly where many people misunderstand how it works and get frustrated when their goal isn’t reached.
What about members that might be too reticent or bashful?
While the guide is pretty intuitive and straightforward, does it work for everyone?
“I believe that people are reticent because they fear being stuck in a conversation for far too long, or the conversation being awkward or not knowing how to end it politely and move on. You can start small, go to the Rockstar events which I always love to attend! And such great speakers from Richard Farleigh to Mr & Mrs Smith. These events are a great opportunity to not be overwhelmed, start a chat with the person sitting next to you. Just say hello, no one is going to judge you for that.”
Our spaces and events provide a conducive and supportive environment for networking; if you’re a little more reserved but would still like to gain new connections of interest to your field or business, email us at email@example.com and share your industry and what you’re looking for and we will try to match you with your business match.
While we can’t guarantee love business at first chat, we can guarantee that taking time to build and grow a professional relationship can be beneficial in the long term.
So, what are you waiting for? Get chatting!
If you’re interested in enriching your entrepreneurial experience and finding a strong community of entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders then contact our membership team at Home Grown.