If you’ve been on the road for an hour to make the most of building connections at breakfast time you have already revealed something about your attitude to professional business networking – that it takes time, commitment, effort and organisation.
The Boardroom Network welcomed 60 local business owners and professionals to the latest meeting at the Solent Hotel, Whiteley. Jacqui Frampton has introduced one of the friendliest and most flexible formats to Hampshire, based upon the three-year success and growth of the sister group in Dorset.
Table 4’s conversations were buzzing with topical business news, including the morning’s cyber security issue for Three’s mobile network, of great interest to Stephen Moore from Amicus ITS, also customer service in the age of social media, which cropped up in conversation with Belinda Poore, owner of a craft business. Both were first time visitors and impressed by the genuine friendly vibe at TBN.
Social media channels mean a product or service which is faulty needs to be rectified – and quickly – before a not-so-happy customer vents their disappointment, or worse, via public platforms. Belinda observed: “We’re held more accountable with public complaints, which makes it harder for any small business. Customer service is integral to building a brand’s reputation, but sadly you do come across people who are out for more.”
Sticking to precise timing, courtesy of MC Jay Rachet, table ambassadors run a smooth round of initial introductions, then we swop tables; this maximises opportunities to speak to quality contacts and discover more about their work.
Three members stepped up for two-minute spotlights:
- Web developer Aaron Whiffin highlighted forthcoming Google changes as more people access websites using mobile devices than desktops. A simple tip to check if your site is responsive is to resize it on a desktop, big to small. See if tabs and the format alter. If they do, good; if not, seek advice.
- Insurance broker Ashley Brewer shared amusing claims’ anecdotes, including his personal favourite, ‘The accident was caused by me waving at the man I hit last week.’
- Outsourced marketing specialist Nicky Matthews suggested ideas to energise marketing in 2017, including prepare for change, consider collaborations and price correctly.
Abi Wightman received a bottle of Champagne for generating the most visitors. Abi knows that in inviting people to TBN, her contacts will not be subjected to sales pitches; instead we are all encouraged to ask for specific introductions in areas of genuine interest.
When crafting connections, a clear, concise explanation about what you do, how you do it and why you love it, will leave a powerful impression.
The net worth of networking really is in the spoken word.
Words: Sue Hughes, copywriter and editor.