Networking is a skill, so how can you get the most from business networking and become super successful?
Many have called me the queen of business networking. Imagine if you will, back to the 12th Century, on the site of Castle Hill in Stirling, Scotland. A recent trip for us to Stirling castle inspired me as we took in the incredible views, and facts about the site, the 350 million year old quartz-dolerite of Stirling Hill which Castle Hill forms a part of.
How, I hear you ask, can a centuries old castle inspire a blog about business networking? There are actually a lot of similarities between the medieval times and business networking!
The courtiers were selected by people they knew, and were someone they trusted – networking is exactly the same! You need to know, like, and trust the people you connect with in your networking before you recommend them, and the people you meet feel the same way. They’re not going to open up their little black book of contacts and introduce you to them unless they know you will care for them. And likewise, you trust your advisors to appoint or suggest someone that can be your aid in business.
Banqueting feasts involved a real variety of foods like roasts, fish, elaborate dishes such as frumenty (a what pottage), venison and perhaps vegetables (if you were lucky!). You had to have 2 kitchens just to cater for the needs of these elaborate feasts, without the pastry chef, the butcher, the pot washer, and the chefs – the castle would not work. The same happens in your networking events – you have a spectrum of businesses that offer an array of services, with this great selection of businesses within the networking environment, you will make it work better.
How do you become king or queen of networking?
- Listen to your subjects – Queen Mary of Guise used to be visited at the castle by members of the public. Because she was responsible for looking after her subjects right across Scotland, she had the open forum for them to come to her, share their issues, and see how they can be resolved.
A baker from a neighbouring village came to the queen, and told them that the Queen’s baker was taking all the bread from their village, which meant they were starving – the village couldn’t buy or make any more bread. The Queen was livid, and did something about it immediately! In fact you could say, they had an early form of a 121!
In business, we may have many troubles, it’s about looking out and seeing how you can help one another. This may be offering advice, a contact, or may be a listening and understanding ear.
- Feed each other’s business – In the 16th Century food was consumed on the basis of a social food chain – this means that it was usual for the “messes” served to one table to contain a far great amount of food than was necessary for those seated there and extra was then passed on to the others by descending order of social rank. This meant the King and Queen were served first, followed by their courtiers, then officials, their servants, and finally those who served food for the table. However, it meant that although social rank was considered, there was enough food for everyone at the table – people considered those who came after them and did not consume everything that was there.
I know this may sound like a strange analogy, but recommending one group of people will result in further afield recommendations, why not show that you are not only prepared to share your business and connections with the top table, but to those outside the group? Sharing means that everyone gets to eat and build each other’s businesses.
- If you don’t ask you don’t get – not all medieval stories end with a head being chopped off! A concerned farmer went to see the Queen to explain that his cattle were being hunted and killed by the King as he hadn’t anything else to hunt and raised his concerns. The Queen helped him by buying more land, and replenishing his stock. This just goes to show that if you don’t ask, you don’t get! When you go to your networking events, for your 1 minute (or however long the pitch is) write your problem down, what you need and how people in the room can help.
Kings and Queens are there to lead, support and ensure that the land is prosperous for everyone – what legacy do you want to write? Keep your networking up to date to make sure you have a long and fruitful rein.
- Who are your wider connections – draw a spider’s web of your top table and their following connections
- What’s your problem – what do you need and how can we help?
- What do you look for in an Aid in your inner circle?
- What three treats in your business could you serve up at the feast table?