Get Ahead VA is very proud to have branches across the country, and the Regional Directors that run them are brimming with good advice about being your own boss. Today, Salvatore, who runs the Bristol branch, is here to share his top tips for business networking.
Hi! I’m Salvatore and I set up the Bristol branch of Get Ahead VA in September 2018. A big part of getting the business off the ground has been networking, so while I’m relatively new to this type of networking, I’ve done a lot of it in the last few months and I’ve learned plenty of useful things. If you’re not sure about where to start with networking, here are my tips for doing it effectively.
Do it a LOT
When you first set up a business, you’re going to have to do a lot of networking, because it’s the best way to quickly build connections and start finding work. Fortunately there are loads of networking groups out there, so you won’t be short of options once you start looking. Try Googling networking events near you, and when you go to them, ask around – the people there are bound to know of others.
Be the early bird
Unfortunately for night owls, many of the best meetings are breakfast meetings, so if you can, you’re going to have to set an early alarm and get yourself out of bed! Lots of people prefer early meetings because they can get them over and done with and still have a full day of work ahead of them. Of course, this might not be an option for you (e.g. if you’re a parent with a school run), so you can find a different time that suits you. Lunchtime and evening meetings are also popular and you can make many valuable connections there.
Find a group that suits you
Networking groups come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s important to find the type that suits you. Some are more formal, including sit-down breakfasts and 60-second pitches, and others are more relaxed, such as mingling with other entrepreneurs over coffee. The main thing is to find groups with the right ethos and with individual members who are right for what you’re offering – if you’re looking for clients, it’s best if everyone in the room isn’t offering the same as you!
Commit to a group
Once you’ve found a group or a couple of groups where you feel comfortable, you should join. This will probably involve paying a fee and attending regularly, but unless you do this you won’t get real rewards. An important part of good networking is to build up long-term relationships, so that the other members will trust you and start to recommend you to their connections. You should also make use of the other members’ products or services – you can’t just take, you have to give back too.
I wish you every success with your networking. Although it might seem scary at first, it can be a hugely rewarding experience, for both you and your business!
Salvatore manages the Bristol office of Get Ahead VA, and he is always keen to connect local entrepreneurs with our team of virtual assistants, who can help with all aspects of running a business. You can contact him on (0117) 214 1099 or [email protected] Alternatively, you can get in touch with our head office on 01483 332220 or [email protected]. We pride ourselves on being the staff you don’t see, but the difference you do.