“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know…”
How many times have you heard that before?
This old cliché comes from the belief that in order to be successful, you have to know the right people in the right places.
It’s almost as good as the one about “having to be in the right place at the right time...”
These two sayings would have you believe that ‘success’, however you define it, is based on luck and luck alone.
You must have the good fortune to know certain people, or the rub of the green to have been born into certain circumstances. You also need fate to conveniently drop you off at all of the important milestones in your life, right at the exact time you’re supposed to arrive there.
If you’re sitting around waiting for Lady Luck to find you, we’ve got some bad news.
You’re going to be waiting a long time.
All that said, clichés become clichés for good reason, and so perhaps some of them are worth exploring in just a little more detail.
Let’s take “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know…”
No one can convince us that every single Premier League footballer is where they are today, simply because their dad’s mate is a scout, or because their mum’s cousin’s friend’s neighbour’s brother is on the board.
It just doesn’t stack up.
The same is true in business. Not every single six figure owner finds themselves where they are off the back of favours.
‘Who you know’ can certainly help. You just have to look at the whole idea from a slightly different perspective.
At 2080e, we are huge advocates of the power of networking. We believe in the concept of meeting, getting to know, and liking other businesses and business minded individuals, for the benefit of everyone involved.
There are a huge range of networking options available for business owners like you, and whilst we’re talking about making the most of ‘who you know’, here‘s what we think about some of those options.
We live in a digital age, even more so under the current conditions, and online networking is a low cost, low risk opportunity for businesses to test the water, assess the competition, advertise, and make money.
There are literally thousands, even hundreds of thousands of sites and platforms for online networking to take place, but we’d recommend choosing carefully.
Use the search bar on Facebook, hashtags on Instagram and look for people with similar interests on LinkedIn. Some people like a scattergun approach, using each and every platform available, but it can often make more sense to narrow your channel and be specific.
Using Facebook as the example, you can look for networking Groups based on criteria such as geographical location or industry.
‘North West Tradesmen’ does what it says on the tin, but so does ‘Chorley Plumbers’. The net is cast wider on the first, but you’re more likely to get what you’re looking for with the second.
These platforms can be a bit ‘hit and miss’, but they are certainly worth the time exploring how they can work for you.
Continuing the example above, you might come across a post that reads something like…
‘Quotes for an outside tap please’
…which is pretty straight forward for a plumber to respond to, until they see 38 comments appear in less than 10 minutes.
All of a sudden, the original poster is bombarded with recommendations and reviews from absolutely anyone who has had an outside tap fitted in Chorley.
If it’s you that gets the business, or your company that gets a few thumbs ups in the process, this type of networking is great. If you end up chasing job after job though, only to have your messages ignored and then work stolen away from you for £10 less than you quoted, this form of networking can be a bit of a waste of time.
So, what about face to face networking?
Well, right now, with the pandemic still passing through, face to face networking is taking a bit of a break, but we firmly believe that this, in addition to an online version, is the right way to go.
Again, there are plenty of possibilities for face to face networking.
Industries, local areas, conferences, expeditions – but which do you choose?
You could invest time, money and energy into trying several different versions for yourself (not a bad idea, by the way) or you could listen to our Number One Recommendation.
2080e fully endorses BNI, Business Network International.
If you haven’t heard of BNI, it’s the leading organisation of its kind, a worldwide networking group of likeminded business owners, working together for mutual success.
BNI was founded by Dr Ivan Misner, widely regarded as the ‘Father of Modern Day Networking’, and is an organisation that gives its members the opportunity to work together, locally and further afield, in their efforts to build successful and sustainable businesses for all.
2080e is not an advert for BNI, far from it, but we have worked with plenty of businesses who swear by it, and would recommend getting involved to anyone who is serious about making the next steps in the world of business.
Every week, members of each chapter (and there are thousands around the world) meet face to face, pitching their business ideas to a room full of people who are eager to connect them with their target market.
The ethos of BNI, namely ‘Givers Gain’, is something that ties in well with what we’re all about at 2080e.
By finding business for their fellow members, business owners in BNI find that their fellow members find business for them in return.
This is where another cliché comes into play. We’re full of them today!
With BNI, you really do ‘get out what you put in’, and members who regularly go out of their way to support others in their chapter, are usually the most successful people in the room.
In BNI, each chapter will only ever host one business from each particular field, so members don’t find themselves in direct competition with each other. Remember the Facebook page, ‘Plumbers in Chorley’, well there’s none of that here.
It’s more a case of, “this is our chapter’s plumber. He is tried, tested and trusted. I refer him in confidence.”
See the difference?
It can be a pretty powerful vehicle, BNI, and whilst there is a small annual investment involved, it can be worth its weight in gold.
Remember, that’s an investment, not a cost.
Fancy finding out more about BNI and how it can help you? Ask around or search online. If there isn’t an active chapter in your town, city or local area, which there probably will be, you won’t have to travel far to find the nearest one.
Visiting is free, and as long as your business doesn’t clash with an existing member, you’ll be fine to pitch your ideas, as well as who you’re looking to work with, at the end of the meeting.
A bit of public speaking is involved, so prepare for that, but expect to meet friendly, focused and forward thinking business people.
It could be one of the best things you do in the early stages of being in business.
It’s not all about who you know then, but it can definitely make a difference.
Networking isn’t down to luck, it’s a choice you make, a strategy to take, and a skill that could give you your big break.
We’re still talking about people next time around folks.
Only this time, we won’t be talking about the people you network with, we’ll be talking about a group of people who are even more important than them…