Networking is a great way of building business contacts but, I have to admit, I never liked networking. I tried it quite a few times over the years but there always seemed to be the same issues:
- Everyone appears to know everyone else
- It’s difficult to strike up conversations and even more difficult to try to turn conversation to business
- Even when you do talk to people, it’s all about is there something in it for them?
- There is pressure to deliver ‘leads’ to fellow networkers (how many new brochures can your ‘best friend’ with her new start-up business really need? Never mind afford!)
- It never seems to be about just mixing with like-minded people, having a relaxed chat and (shock-horror!) enjoying yourself.
And yet networking can be a great way of getting out from behind your desk and getting to know people from your local business community – and building contact with people who might be able to offer you some real benefit either as a customer or a supplier…. …. surely there must be some other way? Now, I think I might have found it!
4-Networking is the brain child of Brad Burton, ex-advertising man, pizza delivery boy and ardent tweeter.
4-N rethinks the whole approach to networking and delivers a refreshing alternative to the normal networking pressure cooker. The ethos is real mix of business and pleasure and during each fortnightly meeting (based around breakfast – normally 8am to 10am) you get to sit down for 10 minutes with each of 3 fellow networkers to have a chat. Through this you quickly build ‘proper’ contacts. There are over 300 4-N groups all over the UK and members are encouraged to attend any meeting they like. Normally people focus on 3 or 4 groups that are local to them and it becomes are real pleasure to enter a room where you see new faces and old friends. But if you find yourself away from home on business (or holiday if you are really keen!) there is almost certain to be a local meeting where you can join in safe in the knowledge that you know the form and are assured of a warm welcome If you expect to march in and start signing up customers, don’t bother. The approach is encompassed in four words:
Meet – Like – Know – Trust
4-N is not about a quick-fix. It is about building sustainable business relationships – and friendships.
I went to my first 4-N meeting just over a year ago – and I’m still going – and enjoying it.
My main focus has always been wanting to meet decent business people and get to know them. Through this process I am developing business relationships both as a client and as a supplier but I am convinced that the key is to not be fixated on ‘must do business now!”
If you don’t like networking but want to get out and meet people, check out 4networking.biz and pop along to your local meeting – you will be welcomed to attend first time as a visitor.
If you are based in the Glossop/High Peak area and want to give 4-N a try, I attend several local meetings and I’d be happy to take you along as a guest – it’ll cost you £10 for your breakfast! Just let me know