I always used to think networking sounded awful. It reminded me of going to events on my own when I ran my own business – standing there whilst everyone else seemed to know people, and I felt left out. Which was weird because I am a social person and I love meeting people, but being on your own in a group where you don’t know where to start is daunting. I had a very wrong view of how networking could be. The truth is that I actually love it now. I have found a type of networking that I love and from that, I have become more confident to do more.
Local networking opportunities
I am part of an amazing group of female entrepreneurs called Athena West London. It is perfect for me as I am looking for clients based in my local area, and everyone who comes lives or works locally. Its very supportive and fun and has really helped me with my business. In the West London group, we have a couple of hypnotists, an osteopath, a couple of nutritionists, some coaches. There is also a dentist, a yoga/meditation teacher, a couple of personal trainers, a women’s health physio, an essential oil therapist – you name it, we have it. Clearly, given the numbers, networking works well for the health and wellbeing industry. This is probably because networking is all about building relationships, and often when it comes to health and wellbeing, potential customers will ask friends for referrals.
There are all sorts of business networking groups and events all throughout the UK. Your local Chamber of Commerce is a good place to start. You can also Google local networking events in your area. There are also online communities and groups of like-minded people on LinkedIn that you can network with.
There are probably lots of good reasons why you should be networking, but for me, these are the four that stand out.
1. Strategic partnership
Local networking events are a great opportunity to meet with like-minded health and wellbeing professionals that you can partner with. Finding someone that has complementary services to your company and you can refer each other business. For example, I have met people that I can partner with who do branding, SEO and copywriting. We have a similar audience, and we can recommend each other. These partners all come from a trusted source, and it’s fantastic that I can then recommend them to my clients (having obviously used them myself for my own projects first).
If you are a nutritionist, some of your clients might be looking to lose weight, so you might look to make strategic partnerships with hypnotherapists, or health and well-being coaches, or fitness instructors. If you are a physio, you might often refer your clients to pilates teachers or studios. Yoga and meditation often go hand in hand. Health and wellbeing is a very collaborative industry. Make strategic partnerships and find others that you can recommend who offer a good service.
2. A chance to improve your presentation skills
Networking involves telling others about your business. It’s about telling people what your business goals are and what you are looking for to help you grow your business. It can involve presenting – we regularly run presentations at our Athena Meetings. The more that you present the more confident you become, and the easier it gets. It’s a great time to present in front of a friendly, supportive audience where you can improve on your presentation skills before presenting to potential clients, or students. You might not need to present in your job, but if you do this, it’s an added benefit. It also just helps you with selling yourself to potential clients.
3. Networking is a chance to win new business
I have already found clients through networking and been introduced to others. If you join an actual networking group, it’s a chance to build relationships and really get to know people. This is especially true, I believe, in health and wellbeing. You really need to connect with the person that you are going to see and build a close personal connection with them. In some instances, it might not be appropriate to see people within your networking circle (if you are a psychotherapist for example), but generally, this is not the case.
I have personally used a hypnotist in my networking group and a nutritionist – both because I built a relationship with them and trusted them. I heard them read out testimonials and learnt more about what they offered. And I have since referred them multiple new clients, so it’s not just those people in the immediate network but their networks too.
4. Friends and support
Friends and support is the fourth reason I’d like to mention. It can be lonely working on your own. It’s nice to have a ‘team’ of people that you can trust and turn to for support. If you join a networking group focused on your profession you can network with peers and support each other and offer strategic advice. If it’s an open networking group, then there is often a wide range of professions and experts. There is probably always someone in the network that can help you with problems in your business. I have met HR experts, lawyers, accountants, photographers and Virtual Assistants. These are people that I can turn to for advice on my own business and that I can recommend to others.
The featured photo at the top of this page is taken by a friend that I met through my networking group – thank you Andreea Tufescu for sharing your great pictures with me!
Do you need any help with your marketing strategy?
Finding the right partnerships is one of the things that I discuss with my clients when we talk about marketing strategy, and I help them put together their marketing plan. They might already have good partnerships in place, but if not, we look at what networks they might tap into. Check out your local area for networking groups and also any groups that are relevant to your trade/profession. I am looking to collate a list of networking groups for the health and wellbeing space, so if you have any recommendations then please let me know.