The idea of business networking becomes a lot less stressful when you try broadening your social circle via existing friends.
Using the words “leverage” and “business networking” when talking about friends just seems too business-like, nevertheless, your existing friends should be the first point of contact you use to get to know new people.
If you are looking to widen your circle, try becoming the organiser for your existing friends. It does take some effort but if you rely on others to get you out and about you might be waiting a while.
Take some initiative and organise a dinner, or drinks, or lawn bowls, or a picnic in the park, or a visit to the zoo, or a festival or a night out at the theatre. The options are endless and chances are your friends will thank you for it. Better still as the organiser you are more likely to be invited to future events and encourage others to organise more events so you won’t always have to be the one making the plans.
Meeting new people
Just recently I enjoyed a spur of meeting other small business owners. Some of it was random, some of it was via my blog but I had managed to collect enough people that were all managing their own businesses and seemed to talk and walk a similar path to me.
I enjoyed my time with them all individually and decided to bring them together for a casual gathering over drinks. It turned out to a great night both for general socialising and also for talking shop. Business cards were swapped and already some of my friends have started to make use of mutual contacts and network amongst each other. I continue to arrange these events every month or two.
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Not working helps your business
Perhaps the most important aspect of socialising and leaving your work behind is how much it can develop your business networking. The ideas generated by outside stimulation are often some of the best you will ever have. Helping others with their business helps you to realise things you could do to improve your own business. Time spent chatting about non-business topics makes you eager to get back to work and indulge in your business (absence does make the heart grow fonder…).
I can honestly say that without my friends my business life would not be nearly as much fun as it is. If you can’t say the same, take some initiative, arrange a get together for your friends and get out there!