Network itJason Firmager
Marketing consultant and founder of FindNetworkingEvents.com, Stuart Russell, shares the importance of networking as a marketing tool
Running your own therapy business doing the thing you love can be a great way to way to earn a living, but as with any business it still requires promotion to ensure a steady stream of customers. Unfortunately, for many of you this can be seen as a chore and is often neglected.
However, there is a way that marketing can be fun. Over the past few years more and more holistic therapists are discovering the benefits that attending regular face to face networking events can bring.
Why should I network? Many people have the perception that networking events are all about selling, but the truth is they also offer many less tangible benefits.
If you work on your own for much of the time, networking can provide a useful support network enabling you to bounce ideas off others or perhaps spark new ideas. It may open up collaboration possibilities or enable to you to meet a local designer who can produce you some leaflets.
Thinking creatively, why not offer taster sessions through a networking group? At a recent event I attended, a local Tai Chi Teacher ran a short meditation session for the group. For many of the people present it was their first experience of meditation and their response was very positive.
Over time regular networking will lead to more and more people getting to know you and hopefully becoming clients or potentially referring you on to others.
What types of events are out there? Typically, most events take place at breakfast, lunchtime or early evening so you should be able find something that fits around your client base.
Formats of events vary widely. Some may involve giving a short pitch about your business, others just a meet up and a chat over coffee. It is worth trying out a few and finding out what you enjoy.
Generally organisers are getting more creative and coming up with new ideas for business events. As well as the traditional offerings, some recent events have involved trips to theme parks and boat trips on the Thames!
Have a Plan!
If you are tempted to dip your toe into the networking world then it is important to do some planning beforehand. Make sure you are clear about what you want to achieve from your networking. There are obviously financial and time implications involved so it is important to know how much it is costing you and what kind of return you are getting.
Tips for Attending Events:
- Always remember to present yourself and your business in a positive manner and make sure you know how to talk about what you do in an easily understood way.
- It is worth spending a bit extra on good quality, well-designed business cards. Add your social-networking details as well as your main contact details.
- It is important that you follow up with people once you get back home. If there is someone you hit it off with at an event then drop those people a quick email or connect on LinkedIn.
Finally… The important thing to realise about networking, is that it is all about building relationships with people over the long term, don’t expect results over night. And remember, networking should be fun, so get out there and enjoy it!
Bowen Technique practitioner Mary Macfarlane, who works in and around Edinburgh, shares her networking experience:
“Networking has become the main stay of my business and I go to a meeting every two weeks or so. I have connected with some wonderful people who have supported me during the embryonic stage of developing my client list and business. It’s not all about getting new clients though and it’s vitally important to remember that it’s also about building relationships with people, developing trust. It’s a great way to meet people who inspire and motivate you; it’s about gaining confidence in yourself to run a business, learning from more experienced people you can use as role models, get advice from or discuss new ideas with.”