My rules for attending networking groups

How I use networking groups to build my business.

Networking can be a great way to boost your business and your confidence

It is a horrible word, isn’t it? Networking. Sounds a bit cringey and slightly outdated in this world of social media where connections can be made instantly. But maybe I am old fashioned because I think there is a lot to gain from attending networking meetings. I’ve been attending groups for around five years and find it not only helpful to my business but also for my clients. I’ve been able to recommend people to my clients that I’ve met through networking and introduced my clients to certain groups that I thought would help them. What I have found most helpful is talking to people who are in a similar position as me – working short hours in the day whilst being the principal carer for my daughter. 

So here are my rules: 

  1. Always research the group before you attend. Speak to the person in charge – just sending an email won’t really give you much about the person. They should know their group well and will be able to tell you more about the members, how it works and also the dress code. 
  2. Decide if you want to go to a women only group. These have advantages as well as disadvantages. If you are new to networking, then I would suggest a women only group to start off with because to me, it feels more approachable. Mixed groups can be more intense and if you are new to networking then this might put you off.
  3. Practice a 1 minute presentation. Most groups do this where you introduce yourself, what you do and also what you are looking for. Hone your minute so that you sound natural and can look at the group when you speak. 
  4. Bring your business card or something that has your business details on it. Yes they are considered a little old hat now but they do still work.
  5. Remember that networking is a two way street – how can you help them? I find that by seeing how I can help someone first, they are always happy to reciprocate.
  6. Follow up – send thank you emails to everyone that you met, follow them on social media. This can be the next step in the conversation. 

You don’t need to keep attending the same group immediately. There are lots of different networking organisations out there – some that require a fee and others that require you to buy a coffee. I have found that the membership groups tend to be more organised and better focused. However groups like Ladies Who Latte are perfect to dipping your toe into the world of networking. I also think WiRE (Women in Rural Enterprises) has a lot to offer. Lastly, don’t forget that every social encounter could be networking – the Christmas parties you attend and Toddler mornings. Just be brave and be happy to discuss your business. You’ll be surprised at what comes your way. 

The weirdest work opportunity that came my way was when I went for my smear test…!

Hope this helps!  

How to look your best on LinkedIn

Linked In

Hello!

After my previous blog (how to be freelance), I thought I would just run through a few hints and tips that I have picked up along the way regarding LinkedIn. People who aren’t looking for a job should still put time and effort into their profile because you never know who is looking at it.

In my line of work, a lot of clients come through on a personal recommendation and although I have a business website, the majority of my new business comes from looking at my LinkedIn profile. I’m the first one to say that my profile isn’t perfect and does need a bit of work BUT it does have the following things that somehow enables me to get me client referrals:

  1. Complete the whole profile: Make sure that you have answered every single prompt – no need to waffle but add concise notes when required. Make sure to list any prestigious events, awards or voluntary work that you do/have done in the past. It all matters.
  2. Profile photo possibility
    Here is a profile photo that I could use but I feel it is too informal for LinkedIn

    A decent profile photo: This shouldn’t be the one that you use on Facebook or Instagram (unless both are business related accounts) but should show you looking professional and approachable. There are photographers that specialise in profile headshot – personally I like a colour image but I know a lot of people use black and white.

    Profile head shot alternative
    This is a more formal profile headshot

    You can use ‘action shots’ of yourself as well – such as giving a presentation or accepting an award. Personally I like to keep it simple and just show who I am.

  3. Background image: I like to use something that reflects my work and also my personality. Currently I have a beautiful vivid painting by one of the artists that I promote.

    Cutaway of a painting by Lucy Ash
    This is one of my preferred backgrounds
  4. A concise headline: That bit of text under your photo should be used to explain what you do. For me, I’m: Publicity and Marketing specialising in Arts and Publishing.  You can add in details – award winning sales director etc… instead. This is what future clients will be looking at.
  5. Examples of your work: I like to feature coverage of books or artists on my profile (although I’ve just noticed that these need refreshing!) or a project that you are particularly proud of that you think others may find interesting.
  6. LinkedIn recommendations
    Always ask for a Recommendation

    Recommendations: So important. Ask your clients or people that you have worked with in the past to endorse you in skills but also give a testimonial. You can give one back to them. This does help to solidify your profile.

  7. Add in the occasional update: I know people who use LinkedIn every day and add in a status update. This isn’t really my thing but I do comment on other people’s news or published articles. That way your name is seen by others and you are being supportive to your contacts.
  8. Contacts:  I believe in quality not quantity when it comes to contacts. I do know that in jobs such as Sales then being connected with as many people as possible is important but to me, I like to know my contacts or at least have someone/thing in common. I tend to have industry contacts only – not friends or neighbours unless it is really warranted. I do LinkIn with colleagues from the past a lot – they are my best referrals. They know how I work and my results. You never know when one of them might need a publicist…
  9. Get your personal LinkedIn URL
    Get your personal LinkedIn URL

    Get a custom URL: Really easy to do – just go through the prompts on your edit page. You can click here for help. That way you can use the link to direct clients straight away, on your emails and also it helps with Google. Everyone “googles” everyone before they meet or sometimes even talk so showing up on the first page is vital.

  10. Treat LinkedIn as your CV : Focus mostly on the work stuff. People are able to discover if you love running or cycling through their internet search of you. I would just use this platform to highlight your career.

Extra reading?

There are LOTS of articles out there that can help you with your LinkedIn profile. Videos and Instagram accounts that will show you how to add attachments, check the language you use and all sorts of things. I have found this article useful and this one has even more tips on getting your profile just right!