As the second part of our “networking” updates, and I’m going to ask you to think about widening your networking reach. Remember, this is not about selling yet, but about using your contacts productively to widen your reach and to provide effective learning and support system around your business activities.

Firstly you will have an inner circle of contacts, which we call “advocates.” These are trusted contacts. They know you know well and they know what you can offer in terms of expertise, knowledge and services.

Work on the basis that one advocate is worth at least ten customers and anyone you meet could potentially introduce you to the ideal customer, and therefore make the whole sales process so much easier.

The “outer circle” contains contacts you vaguely know and talk to, but do they know enough about you? What you’ll find is that some of these, with softly-softly approach, can move into your inner circle by making an effort to talk and engage with them. One of the issues with networking is starting a conversation. Try to make the first move and whilst people like to talk, they are often too polite to initiate a conversation.

Write a list of these contacts and ask yourself:
• Are there people you know who should be on your contact list and appear in either your inner or outer circle?
• Are there people on your contact list who would benefit from you connecting them to others you know?
• Who could move from your outer to inner circle, and how could you approach this?

Most networking events offer events and fun, social gatherings, which are really helpful for breaking the ice. Here are a few networking events and companies who offer opportunities in a supportive, fun setting:

Woko Woco was established by four successful entrepreneurs keen to make the day to day job of business networking interesting, fun and most importantly rewarding and successful. You can register your interest via the website, but use Linkedin to connect with them. It is aimed at Director-level membership.

Fancy a few drinks in a social setting? Cardiff Young People, CYP for short, run fun networking events. Their mantra has always been “Networking With a Twist”, and introduce a Twist to each event so that after a while, it doesn’t even feel like networking! Events are normally held every two months, although they like the idea of after work meet ups in Cardiff. In July, they have a summer BBQ on the cards with a hog roast, if that feeds your fancy check out:

Well, if the mission to knock the socks off formal and stuffy networking events, sound too good to be true, have a look at the website for Fiftyone3!

And finally, with summer on hand, don’t forget to check out other networking events via your usual local networking haunts!