If you are still teaching but are thinking of going self-employed then you will need to think about Networking. There are many business networking events that allows you to increase your knowledge of business, meet other like-minded people, get new clients and tell others about your business. Here are some of the benefits of networking:
Opportunities that come from networking include client leads, business sales, partnerships, speaking and writing opportunities, and many more, although it is important to remember that any opportunities you get involved with should align with the vision and goals you have for your business.
Referrals and increased business
Many business networking meetings allow you to give a 30 to 60 seconds ‘pitch’ (sometimes called an elevator pitch) in which you tell the others present in the room who you are, what your business does, how you can help them and what you are looking for. With that information, others can give you referrals and leads for you to follow up and, if successful, these can be turned into clients. Of course, it’s give and take and so it is important that you listen carefully to others speaking and are happy to give referrals to others.
In business, it is often said that it is not what you know, but who you know. Sometimes, especially when dealing with larger businesses, it will be very difficult to contact the person you need to speak with. It is often said that there is a “gatekeeper” (essentially a locked door) standing between you and the person you need to speak with. An advantage of networking meetings is that it gives you the opportunity to ask if anyone knows the person you need to speak with and ask if an introduction can be made, which bypasses the gatekeeper.
Getting yourself known
The main hurdle when starting a business will probably be that few people in the business world will have heard of you and so you will need to get yourself known. You could start with online networking by joining Facebook groups for local businesses in your area and engaging with the groups. You could start this online networking while you are still teaching, joining in on conversations about business. However, this doesn’t mean selling to them (Buy my stuff!).
You could also look for ‘business networking groups’ in your area. These are usually held early in the morning and enable you to network with other business entrepreneurs. Regular attendance at these events will help to get your face known. A phrase used in business is “Know, Like, Trust”; people will get to know you and you can build up your reputation as a likable, knowledgeable and reliable person who they will begin to trust and want to do business with or recommend to others.
Networking gives you the opportunity to tap into advice and expertise from others on all sorts of things related to your business.
On the subject of advice, Richard E. Grant wrote an interesting blog about his experiences of setting up a business in, “How I went from films to fragrance and turned my scent, Jack, into a successful brand“. He gave his top three tips for starting a business in your fifties:
“In the first year you get fleeced at every corner and you have to hold on to your courage and believe in your dream.
It’s 24/7. You have to be obsessive – which I am.
Triple check every single detail. People say one thing and what they actually mean and how they deliver are two separate entities. Never assume.”