Jon Bannister explains why it’s important – both on an individual level and a business level – to get out and connect with others in the industry.
For most, the words ‘networking event’ are enough to provoke the feeling of dread throughout their body. Whether it’s the meaningless small talk you hate or you have just attended too many boring events, it will have you wondering what the point is of attending them.
What exactly is so bad about networking that it has people quaking in their boots?
Other than being extremely stressful and sometimes awkward, Professor Francesca Gino at Harvard Business School and her colleagues studied the effects of ‘instrumental networking’, where individuals make connections for the purpose of advancing their career. They found that this networking approach made people ‘feel dirty’, so much so that they would think about needing to take a shower or brush their teeth afterwards.
This interesting study just might explain why people choose to avoid networking events, turning to easier methods such as connecting with someone on LinkedIn.
At Bespoke Support Network we work with a number of financial advisors and business professionals, meaning we understand the importance of attending these events.
Regardless of your specific expertise, everyone can benefit from attending networking events. In fact, 85 per cent of regular attendees say they built stronger, more meaningful business relationships during face-to-face networking and conferences.
However, these are events are particularly useful for individuals working in finance as it gives them opportunities to connect with peers as well as their clients.
Meet new people
It sounds like a given, but networking events give you the opportunity to speak to and connect with different people. In an increasingly competitive sector such as finance, it’s important that you are able to successfully engage and interact with your clients and these events give you that chance to practise your charm.
Build meaningful relationships
Strategic alliances, partnerships, quality recruitment and referrals are just some of the benefits that come from connecting with the right individuals at networking events. Particularly if the event is quite broad, you don’t know who you might meet – a solicitor, graphic designer, marketing executive… They could all be your next clients.
Increase the visibility of your business
The more networking events you go to, the more times your knowledge of finance has been shared. Not only does this mean your business is instantly recognisable to organisers and peers but you can build up trust within your sector, becoming the go-to person for insight and guidance in your sector.
Stay up-to-date with current trends
The business world is constantly changing, particularly within the finance and legal sectors. There’s a chance you may have missed some of these changes! When you go to a networking event, you will be able to learn information about the current and future changes you may have not known otherwise. This new insight can be powerful, and change your approach when working with clients. It will also give you the competitive edge over others, given that you have a deeper understanding of the changes.
It may not be easy for everyone, but networking is one of the most valuable skills you can have as a business owner. Not only does it form the backbone of your career, but networking can always be worked on and something you will need to improve.
In the right mindset, networking can actually be enjoyable and an enriching experience for you and your business, creating a whole host of benefits for your career.
Jon Bannister, managing director, Bespoke Support Network
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