We often ask ourselves if networking really works. Well, if you expect it to work, it will, and if you don't expect it to work, it usually doesn't. In many cases, you only get out what you put in. So, if you make an effort to talk to others about what you do - as well as taking an interest in their field of expertise, then they're more likely to build up a rapport with you, which over time can generate leads and business.
The above film, is for a Renfrewshire based networking group, where a vast array of different businesses (including accountants, photographers, retail consultants, designers, videographers, hypnotherapists etc) all attend, and the reason they attend - to network, to seek potential business opportunities and to 'sell' themselves to others, just like you. It's as simple as that.
Many businesses out there, go on the premise of word of mouth or referrals. However, if you interact with other like-minded businesses, you can make business networking work for you, build up your business contacts and expand your potential pull of networking contacts.
It usually takes time for the effects of networking to really kick in. Having one or two 'talks' with business people, will not necessarily result in you getting work from them right away. However, if you build up a rapport, they are more likely to recommend you to others, or indeed use you themselves.
Why? Well, because you've established a connection with them. They (by now) will know what you can do for them/and or their associates, they will know what you have to offer and they will know (more often than not) what you are capable of doing for them, or others etc.
Whichever network route you take, you'll soon find out if it's for you, and whether or not you wish to proceed with it. Bear in mind, networking isn't everyone's cup of tea. Some people feel socially inept or anxious putting themselves 'out there', but the more you try and the more you do, the more comfortable you'll become with it.
Some people who attend networking events, are there to boast their ego, sell themselves only - as opposed to listening to what others have to offer, and generally annoy people, this doesn't happen often, but it can happen. Just the same as people attending networking events as a social gathering and wanting some gossip. These are the rare few, but there will always be someone.
One note of caution - nobody likes a pushy sales person, so don't do the 'hard sell'. Having witnessed this first hand several times, it never works, it only alienates you and gets people's backs up.
Networking may, or may not be for you, but as the old saying goes - nothing ventured, nothing gained.