Obviously I had been unwittingly networking as every time we all meet people we are building our networks both for businesses and socially (though all small business owners would probably agree that there is little distinction between our business lives and social lives).
However I had never thought about it and certainly hadn't gone out of my way to become good at it, which I am learning now is very worthwhile.
I went along to 2 face to face networking events in Luton in the early part of 2020...and then just as I was accepting this was worthwhile, Corona virus pushed us all into lockdown.
Since then I have learned a lot more, reading books, joining the Bedfordshire Chamber or Commerce and talking with members of a few networking organisations.
I had a meeting with the BNI, which is not for me but I learned a lot about how to spot referrals and how networking can help business owners.
I have joined a few networking events with the Chamber and I have recently started attending some online sessions called Buzz which is a clever way to feel a little more like you are really attending the event rather than sitting at a screen.
I can not say that my business has been able to pick up work this way, but learning about referrals was great and I have been much better at hooking my clients up with other small businesses when they need work wear with logos or business insurance etc.
I have even learnt that when I am attending one child's football training sessions and the youngest one's school run, the opportunity to network is ever present.
An unexpected benefit has been the shared understanding other small business owners have - as self employed people we often have experiences that 'wage slaves' simply can not understand. The ability to chat to other people with shared experiences and maybe to bounce ideas is a real joy and I had not even known I wanted that kind of experience until I tried it!
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