If you’re in business, you could probably think of a few lessons you’ve learned in the past year.
I know it’s a constant topic of conversation between my business besties, my clients and myself.
Whether it’s about learning about who’s loyal – be it staff, friends, customers.
Or maybe it’s around finances. Things like making sure you buffer your finances to take a hit and still stay afloat, or routinely doing budget projections and cash flows. Many businesses are focussing on ways to never to be caught with their financial “pants down” again.
For me, the biggest lesson I have learnt this past year is this:
MY NETWORK IS MY NET WORTH!
All those relationships I have built over the past few years running a social media and marketing business, all those connections I’ve made online and offline, all those freebies I did for someone some time, all those quick chats I did to help someone out of a jam – they all came home to roost during the social/economic downturns of this last year.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that as a person who runs a speaking business (ie me!), had a pretty clear diary very quickly during the height of Covid-19.
When the first lockdown happened, I had actually just won myself a 30K speaking gig – which was HUGE for me, I cannot tell you how huge that was! And I had it taken away from me less than a week later when Covid restrictions came into play!
I was able to reconcile with it pretty quickly, (heck it was like money I never had any way) – but I admit it was a little heartbreaking.
About 30% of my private clients rang, when Covid-19 hit, to say they wouldn’t be continuing, which was totally understandable.
I’m happy to say most are back now in some capacity and new ones have appeared.
And these new clients have appeared because they were in my network!
They had been following me, or listening to my podcast or engaging with me in my Like Minded Business Owners Facebook group, or had a discovery call at some stage. For them, when Covid-19 hit, it was the wake up call they needed to get their business future proofed and that involved getting their marketing right (or start marketing as one of the cases was)!
I’m pleased to say that I ended up almost as busy with speaking gigs as I was prior to Covid-19, by embracing the “virtual” interaction space with Zoom and other technology doing the heavy lifting! Which – of course, had its challenges (hello home learning for my kids!), and it wasn’t the same as the energy from a room of people (I love presenting and public speaking LOVE IT!). But, on the upside, I was able to connect with so many people, and I worked out this saved a lot of mileage on my car!
My business has been saved by my network – hands down, absolutely.
Now I know one of my business besties, Kellie Briggs who has the Business Networking by Design podcast, and was actually a guest on my Podcast Episode 44, would be loving me talking about my network being my net worth, because networking is her absolute JAM (if you haven’t listened to her podcast – get to it)!
But back on topic.
I want you to think about your network and what it represents as your net worth inside your business – dive into this little theory of mine of how your network can become such an integral part of your net worth.
- You can’t just network in your bubble
I’m the first to put my hand up and say networking makes me feel uncomfortable.
I am such a “pick someone out in a room and they will be my bestie for the night” kind of person – of course, watch who you pick!
But – I will encourage you to get out there. Meet people who make you feel uncomfortable because you think they are “bigger” than you, further on the journey than you or from a completely different industry to you. The connections you make can be invaluable in your business!
- Network online – but do it differently!
Online networking makes this so easy – so so easy.
Start following and connecting with people.
But do it differently, do it personally.
For instance, reaching out for a new connection on LinkedIn. Send them a personalised message with the request – don’t just click the “connect” button. If you get a new connection, take the opportunity to send them a message (whether they sent one or not), maybe even send them a voice message. Trust me that gets people’s attention and in a good way!
On Instagram, if you get a new follower, send them a short message. A simple “Hey, thanks for the follow – happy Thursday, hope you’re doing well.” is a really nice personalised touch.
These things I just mentioned – all fall into the bucket of plain old Human to Human marketing!
I promise you, these little things, add up to big things and even business!
- It’s a trust thing
I am sure you’ve heard, over and over, about how your customers need to know, like and trust you before they’ll buy from you.
Giving them ways to get that trust, get to know you and like you, is done, of course, through networking among other things.
If you’re never showing up anywhere, then building relationships is freaking hard!
So, show up.
If you already show up – show up more!
Now this for me, is HUGE. And it’s a big part of it when I say my network is my net worth.
Some of the big contracts I have picked up in the last few months have been from referrals. My webinars have been full because of referrals and repeat customers.
The people referring me are sometimes people I’ve never met in real life! They are part of my online network – but they have got to know, like and trust me, because of how I show up.
My mentor used to talk about referrals being at the end of the buying cycle, but that’s old school thinking now! It was probably true when he was in the prime of his marketing career, but now referrals come from people who may never have bought from you or used your services directly. A trust factor has developed in other ways that they feel confident to refer their customers, their contractors, people in their world to you.
Having connections means having opportunities. The better the connections, the deeper the relationship, the better the opportunity.
So many people talk about the fact that they are nervous to put themselves out there – to put themselves online, to tell the world exactly what they are doing. And I completely relate – it can seem really daunting if this is not something you regularly do.
People wonder how they can help someone, but I am going to give you a piece of advice that was given to me.
If you have the ability to make someone’s life better, simpler, easier, happier, healthier – the ability to solve a problem for someone – then you are being self-centred if you don’t do it!
I know, seems harsh, hey!
But it’s true. Imagine if someone had the exact solution to solve your biggest problem in business or in life and they just didn’t want to put it out there because they were afraid!
Wouldn’t you be thinking “But I need it, it’s going to help me so much – please just put it out there!”. So who is to say that your ideal client isn’t saying that about you? RIGHT NOW!
Let me give you a little story about my first big experience with “Showing Up”.
Public speaking is something I never ever in a billion years thought I would be doing as a career. You know why I never thought I would be doing it?
I hated public speaking! But, I also hated that my fear of public speaking had a hold on me all the same – so I just went and did it.
My first speaking gig was to an audience of 200 people, I was literally throwing up in the toilet beforehand with nerves (I kid you not!).
Seeing how nerve-wracked I was, a co speaker said to me something that has long stuck with me:
“Jenn it’s not about you, it’s about your audience. They can’t wait to hear all your wisdom and take home some tips to implement into their business, they don’t care if you’re nervous, they just want the gold.”
The being nervous was about me – not my customers. And I was showing up for them not me. It didn’t make me less nervous, but it did make me think different about being nervous and helped me show up better.
After about 4 minutes on stage, I was fine and no one came up to me and said, “boy you looked nervous, you ok?’ – not a single one!
What that story highlights is that we need to be showing up for our clients or customers.
And you might ask – “But Jenn, what does that have to do with networking or net worth-ing?”
Well, if you’re not showing up, then how will you build your network of people who know like and trust you and be willing to not only spend money with you but refer you business too!
So -what’s your action plan to get your NETWORK firing?
- Start networking and as you do, think of how you can put a personal spin on it to be more memorable – like voice or video messaging.
- Make networking online and offline part of your future proofing strategy. Definitely go check out Kellie’s podcast – Business Networking by Design – she has a mountain of networking expertise!
- Join the Like Minded Business Owners group on Facebook – it’s a great place to network and I’ll see you in there!
So, let’s hang out and get social on social – head to Instagram and send me your question via a DM, I’m at @smallbusinessmadesimple or head to LinkedIn and do the same – you’ll find me at Jenn Donovan!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR!
Jenn Donovan is a marketing strategist and social media extraordinaire, coach and mentor to savvy business owners. Owner and Founder of Social Media & Marketing Australia.
With a passion for making business simple, because it’s isn’t easy but it should be simple or at least simpler, she’s built a reputation for helping other small business owners simplify their marketing and businesses so they can reach their goals, be more profitable and live the dream (finding the freedom they set out to achieve when they started … the illusive small business owner freedom dream …!)
Jenn believes in giving before asking and that’s why she’s the host of the popular Small Business Made Simple Podcast.