The Christmas break is over and most of us are in the process of returning to work, if we haven’t already. I’m hoping most people had the chance to take a break, as I know it can sometimes be hard in small business.

Over the break I spent some time contemplating the new year for Realise Business and our team, considering the ways we might grow and improve our services and skills for the year ahead. At the same time, I couldn’t help but think about other small business owners, our clients, and what might be the most valuable piece of advice I could give for the year ahead? There’re so many options and depending on who you speak to the ideas will change but, in my experience, if I were to limit my advice to just one thing to prioritise in 2020, the answer is Networking.

It’s important to meet other business owners for many reasons but I recommend networking first and foremost because it is low cost – the biggest cost is your time when making that regular commitment. In my experience, the return on your investment of time is always worth it. Aside from the referral potential, it can give you an opportunity to test your product offering and your pitch and learn from others who’ve been there before you. There are many variations to networking groups and some are more structured than others but my advice is to choose what’s best for you in the space where you feel most comfortable and take the opportunity to tweak your ideas on advice from the various other business people you encounter.

When choosing a group, all groups offer something slightly different; some are more structured, and some are more casual like our Pub Biz event. What I say to all my clients is, don’t give up on networking, if you find that the first group of people are not right for you, try another group or at the very least, try it a couple more times to give yourself a chance to be more comfortable with it. Networking is not easy, even to the most seasoned networkers, but if you take yourself out of your comfort zone, I promise you it will be worth it.

Why I believe in hosting networking events for free

We see over 2,000 clients per year at Realise Business which gives us great insight into the small business community and what motivates people. Most often people will attend events first for the education they may receive and as a secondary motivation, a chance to make new connections. It’s on this foundation that we’ve built our event series, in particular, Breakfast with an Entrepreneur and Pub Biz -two completely different environments to network in but both offering the same key components: you’ll learn something to take back into your business and you’ll meet new people.

Our regular monthly networking event seriesPub Biz, is held for free in 3 different locations across Sydney at present. Many people ask why we do it for free and the truth is, we do it because we see the difference it makes for small business owners when building connections with each other. Our Pub Biz Networking is not only free for people to attend but our team also attend on their own time. In our coaching team’s experience of participating in our events and speaking with clients, they’ve seen what networking can do to build the knowledge, confidence and success of a small business owner. Even now, when the world is becoming more and more digital by nature, there’s no comparison to getting out and meeting people face to face at a networking event.

Our events give people the opportunity to speak with our coaches, we create a community and understand the different capabilities of the businesses within that community through the expertise of the people in our team. When you meet a coach or a team member at an event, they’ll immediately identify who else you will benefit from meeting. Every person in the room truly and only want small business owners to be successful, it’s our passion and it’s why we do it for free.

The most successful networkers

As both a coach and CEO, I find it incredibly satisfying to watch how generous people are with each other at our networking events. They are always willing to help each other for little to no reward for themselves. In fact, I’d say the very best “networkers” are those who attend with no agenda at all. When you are your own brand, the best thing you can do is to be authentic. Be generous in your conversations with people and don’t expect every person you meet to become a client or business partner. And to truly make the most out of it, just keep going – your consistency in showing up and in being considerate in your conversations is how people will remember you and it’s the reason why they’ll come back to look for you when they do have a need for your services. You’d be surprised by the amount of times someone walks through the door of one of our networking events and asks for “the CRM guy” or “that website SEO person” they met a couple of months ago. We do our best to reconnect people when possible but the best thing you can do is to put that two hours into your calendar every couple of weeks and be diligent in your networking and relationship building.

Every group is different and as I said, if the first group is not for you don’t let that be an excuse to stop going to other networking groups. I’ll often recommend our clients try a different type of small business networking outside of what we offer if I think it would be a better fit for them.

The value of networking is comparable to none and I truly believe that every small business owner should be doing it in some way shape or form, whichever way suits you best, whether you believe you need the business or not. Many times, the community and friendships you make are of even more benefit to your success, health and well being than the new business opportunities you’ll also encounter.

Click on the links below to register for our February Networking events:

Manly Pub Biz, Thursday, 19th March, 5:00pm – 7:00pm. Register Now

Surry Hills Pub Biz, Wednesday, 11th March, 5:00pm – 7:00pm. Register Now

Cronulla Pub Biz, Friday, 6th March, 4:00pm – 6:00pm. Register Now

Share This Article!