Should business owners and entrepreneurs be thinking about networking again? And should networking be part of the new norm? I asked Fiona Anderson, Director of GEC PR, a specialist travel and lifestyle agnecy
“It’s a ’hell yes’ from me!“, she said, and proceeded to tell me why.
“Some of the best business advice I was given from an industry veteran when starting up my PR agency GEC PR four years ago, was to network like crazy. I did think this was probably not one of the most important things to get on with during my first year of business, but I’m pleased to say I was proved wrong. At a (networking) travel industry event a few months later, I asked an owner of a large fleet of taxis for some sage business advice, and again he vouched for networking. To quote: ‘Your network is your net worth, Fiona‘.“
She continued, explaining the challenges faced by travel and lifestyle PRs in the past 14 months.
“Despite it all, I believe my business is still thriving, because of my network.“
“I’ve received referrals from old clients to new ones; Projects and campaigns are being signed off by people who know me, my agency, and the results of our work; Contacts I‘ve made at virtual events who have reached out to me later on through LinkedIn and recommended me to their personal acquaintances. Networking has undoubtedly been my agency’s main new business funnel in these challenging times.“
Networking can be no or low cost: Reaching out to people on LinkedIn doesn’t cost anything. Many trade events are virtual and low cost at the moment, so when cash flow is lean, networking is a cost-effective marketing tool. It gets the creative juices flowing: Other people have a different perspective to me so I find networking can be a great source of creative inspiration.
“Networking can be fun!“, Fiona says. “It is a great way to connect with new people and places!“
As face-to-face events return, networking is also a great way to meet like-minded entrepreneurs who can commiserate over the shared pain of the last year and a half.
“So here’s to the return of real life, not screen life!“
Written by Cindy-Lou Dale