As we start the new year there are still plenty of challenges facing retailers. We want to support you so you can not only navigate the new landscape, but also grow, be profitable and create the business you imagined when you first started. To help, Nancy Georges ‘the Retail Miss Fix-It’ will be answering your questions every fortnight. Today’s question: Should I be networking? I don't have time to do another thing!
I have gone to a lot of networking events and I am always disappointed that there aren't more retailers (please note: when I say retailers, I mean wholesalers too).
Networking covers so many things. There are business development meetings, events, presentations, seminars, association meetings, or straight networking, whether that’s drink-in-hand-meeting-people or structured networking ‘meet-10-people-in-an-hour’.
To find the best one for you, you need to do them all and assess which one suits you at that time. Your needs will change as you and your business develop, so be open.
If you want to meet new people then networking events are suitable. If you want to develop yourself and your business, attend events with a learning angle and an opportunity for you to ask questions and meet other business owners.
Networking within your industry and outside your industry is very important to your business. When you only hear the same thing from the same people within your industry it does not encourage new thinking or an open mind, which restricts the development of the business.
Stepping outside your business develops your business and you as a business. The world is changing and business principles are being challenged in every industry. Looking to other industries and success stories can inform businesses of new principles and ideas they can apply to their business.
Remember that people you meet at these events are potential customers and/or suppliers too. Learning how to talk about your business/product and tailor it to different customer groups is a valuable skill learned at networking events.
For me, I like to attend meetings and events that develop me and my business as opposed to straight networking. I also like to 'add people' to my 'brains trust' and advisory board. When we are busy running our businesses, we need people we can 'tap' into and ask advice of.
I have been running the Business Crew for exactly that purpose; to problem solve and create advisory boards. Ten to 20 business owners meet for two to three hours a month and work through problems, have actionable outcomes with accountability to themselves and the group. As the facilitator I ensure that everyone gets equal time and the best advice and outcomes.
The important thing is to do something that meets your needs and helps expand your reference and develop your skills and business.
Nancy Georges is The Retail Miss Fix-it, retail strategist & consultant with over 25 years experience.