Many small business owners hear the word networking and start shaking.  It’s a bit like Marmite in that you either love it or hate it.

Networking shouldn’t be something to be scared of, it should actually bring you business if done the right way.

Networking isn’t just about turning up at events though.  There are other ways to network until you feel ready to meet people face to face.

When I started out I was working a full time job and running my business 5 to 9 and then some.  I didn’t have time to attend meetings, but I found a lot of support networking online.

This can be through social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+, or it can just be via online forums. 

I started out on forums as at that point it was all I knew.  There were people like me wanting to make the move to full time self employment, and there were people who were already working for themselves full time.  They gave good advice and helped me build my confidence, even introducing me to the social media forms of networking.

“Whether you choose physical or online networking the important thing is not to sell, sell, sell.  That’s not what networking is about, it’s about building relationships, sharing connections and giving help or advice where you can.” Helen Stothard

Follow that mantra and the work will start to come to you via referral.

When you’re looking to start physical networking have a look round for groups that meet your needs, be that the time they meet, or the requirements they place on you for attending, some require you to attend every meeting whilst others allow you to attend as and when you are able.

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