Being there

‘You know Charlie, it’s tough for me to take time off work to attend these breakfast meetings.’

I used to hear the above phrase a lot during the early days of the Weeklybiz. 

Taking time off work?

Another popular version was:

‘I can’t afford to spend time away from the job for the sake of an early breakfast.’

An early breakfast away from the job?

This was commonplace as well … once upon a time:

‘I have a presentation I need to complete by the morning …’ 

Casting my mind back, there was a time when this type of response was commonplace whenever I extended a genuine invitation to develop new business. ‘Nowadays the response is more like … 

‘It’s difficult for me to commit.’

Too busy for more business? Is this the message we wish to deliver?

Time is valuable, I get it. That’s why we schedule the morning meetings – to be less onerous, 7.15-8.45 am – engagement before the day starts. 

I consider my preferred networking date offers the perfect time to engage as we listen out for business. Because, networking is not only about you. Networking is about how we inform and educate colleagues, this starts by being there.

Being there for the conversation, opinion, and observation. Being reliable.

By being there for others we’re showing empathy while enhancing our own reputation. By working on our reputation we’re making a real difference to the possibility of new, meaningful referral business. Being recommended by others is a wonderful thing …

… the stronger the relationship, the more suitable the referrals.

Not forgetting, for more sensitive referrals, (those including family,) we’re a little more discerning about where to place our business. The same principles apply to our colleagues. We all ask, ‘who do we trust?

Time spent networking is not taking time away from the business – it is the act of developing your business. through the introduction, by referral.

Being lucky

‘It was only a matter of time, David.’

We were discussing the referral my friend had collected during this morning’s meeting. 

David had spent the past twelve months working on his presence, his persona, and the business. His input was now rewarding him with some important work for his company. David of course was happy, we all shared his delight.

It’s so good to see someone enjoy their work and reap the rewards. One of the many benefits of networking is sharing in the success of friends.

I’m sharing the joy with you here because not everyone is able to experience the success that David has worked so hard to achieve.

There are lots of people who cannot commit to regular networking, for a whole host of reasons.

` life commitments

` no time

` no patience

` or they’re too busy for more business.

David has attended our meetings on a regular basis for twelve months. He’s worked hard to achieve clarity during his presentations and the ‘after meeting’ one-to-one meetings have also helped others understand his business.

Importantly, through these developed relationships, David has gone out of his way to help and support his colleagues.

By doing so he’s found out – first hand, that it’s not about what you have, it’s about who you know.

By ‘being there,’ on a regular basis for your fellow networkers … when the opportunity arises, we make ourselves … irresistible.

This is why networking has worked for David because David has worked on his networking!

‘people buy from people’

to ‘have a go’

I was having a conversation with an esteemed friend recently.

At 84yrs of age he’s the senior ‘kid on the block,’ someone who is quite ‘well-off.’ His family estate being considerable, he wants for nothing. Although today, I found him in a reflective mood.

He considers himself lacking’ in certain areas of his life.

At times, don’t we all?

As a former investment banker, he had spent only a short while in the role until the death of his father decreed that he was ‘the one’ to control and manage several thousand acres, including farms, numerous dwellings, and … a mine … not forgetting the mine …

Yes, I’m in a lucky position I suppose Charlie. Although. For the past 200 years, my family has existed to maintain the well-being of tenants residing on the estate. As responsible custodians, we also safeguard the rich legacy that surrounds and supports us.

So, why so wistful?

I would have liked to have ‘tried my hand’ at developing a business from ‘the off’, Charlie. That would have been for me, a challenge no doubt, but to build from nothing would be a dream come true.

One’s own destiny defined by your own hand?

“In part, yes Charlie, correct. The excitement of launching, from scratch, a new enterprise? Something to be sought out by others … a business sampled and enjoyed. That appeals to me, it always has. It must be deeply satisfying for you.

On occasion, yes. Like everything else, it’s great when things are going well. Although remembering the ‘early days?’ The unwary may find being a ‘solopreneur’ a minefield, full of highs and lows.

Wonderful stuff, Charlie, but you have your network to support you, have you not? To be in charge of your own enterprise, you answer to no one…

Our customers. Yes, my own network often points the way forward but it’s down to each of us to steer the course. Ultimately we answer to no one but our customers and ourselves.

I left my friend with a distinct feeling he would have enjoyed, and, most likely, made a great job of the challenge of life as a self-employed proprietor. Entrepreneur.

Not to be …

I also gave quiet thanks for our conversation as it confirmed my own ambitions are part way now fulfilled.

Because I had faith and took the first steps … I ‘had a go.’

Gone fishing …

“You may call it networking Charlie, I call it fishing.”

My wife was highlighting how much time I spent networking (6-8 hours per week.) Sue compared it to being a ‘golf widow’ or ‘fisherman’s wife.’

She had a point. I do enjoy the opportunity of meeting up with my regular group. We share so much, there’s plenty of common ground, being together now for more than ten years and I’m not the only one to enjoy the occasional enquiry. 

“Fishing. Put it this way, Charlie … You prepare the night before. Checking the ‘tools of the trade,’ you leave the house as dawn approaches to be at the preferred destination for an informal chat and pre-meeting coffee.

But …

In quick time you set up prior to the arrival of friends and guests, the same as you would when fishing. Preparing the scene, ‘the burley,’ assembling the lures, you’re in preparation.” 

It’s what I do Susan, this is how the flag for my business is flown.

There’s more. You offer encouragement to attendees, as you do when fishing, you vary the lures and, depending on the conditions … there’s every chance that you aren’t going to catch anything anyway – it’s right isn’t it?” 

Correct. I’m never expecting to come away with business each time we meet up.

“Yes, so you say. I’m witness to your optimism, I see long stretches without any interest in what you do. Just like the riverbank, time goes by and there’s not a bite … correct?” 

Yes, (she’s right again.) That’s true, although once you do experience episodes of success …’

“They’re few and far between, aren’t they? You’re not always catching the fish that is going to feed the cause, are you? I get that …” 

Susan, once you experience the validation of your skills and are rewarded … you learn a skill for life. You understand that not everyone is in the market for your business at the same time. Like fishing, there are many different contributing factors to the time for success.

If we do something right enough times we start to influence the marketplace (or the fishing hole) and people (or fish!) take notice …  our skill is rewarded as our reputation is enhanced. 

“So, what you are trying to say is …

What I’m saying is the many rewards of networking, like anything else of real value, are realised over time.

“And along the way?” 

Along the way, long term, helping others for a couple of hours per week can be very satisfying.

“O.K., I’ve learned a little more about networking and about fishing. Tonight we’ll stick with the pizza.”

Marvellous. Fish and chips next week!

What’s your excuse?

Hi Charlie. “Sorry, I’ve had a call from a client who needs to see me tomorrow morning, so I can’t make the meeting.”

For as long as I’ve been networking, this is the ‘stand out’ explanation I’m offered when someone calls to opt-out. They’re faced with choosing to replace one appointment with another.

They choose to be elsewhere.

Of course, I’ve heard many different stories, some that merit mentioning here:

* A flat tyre on the ‘spare car.’ (Don’t ask what happened to ‘the original car!’)

* Sorry, I slept through the alarm. (I do get it!)

* The kids were giving me trouble. (Hey, who’s the boss here?)

My all-time favourite ‘bestest’ excuse for missing out?

* Mosquitos kept me awake all night, I was exhausted by the morning … (it’s true!)

All good, valid (creative) reasons for not ‘being there.’

So I may sound terse when I say that ‘my client needs to see me tomorrow morning’  … is not a ‘valid reason’ to miss your networking.

After all, we schedule meetings, don’t we? Diaries are commonplace (even customers have them!) That’s why the networking breakfast meeting is an early start, so to avoid impacting the daily routine.

It’s a routine that works for most.

More importantly … in my view, as we reflect on the messages we’re sending to our fraternity, whether we like it or not, we’re suggesting ‘something or somebody is more of a priority just now.

I like to keep my appointments. The regular routine is not only good for my own well-being, it’s great for the continuity of the business engagement also. If I do have a request to be with someone early, I’ll make sure we reschedule to avoid a clash.

Make sense?

Call me unreasonable if you wish, it’s plain diary management. To me, the routine of Networking is exactly as it sounds. We’re working on a network of contacts. We’re practiced at being there for the opportunity,  to offer help and advice. We’re working on becoming dependable, for reliable makes you referrable.

Word of mouth travels. It’s the best form of advertising and no one can afford to let their reputation slip by disappointing their close network.

People buy from those who they know, like, and trust.


Accountability is such an important quality. There’s not a lot to maintain, we start by respecting the value of time while doing as we say we shall. 

I help clients write the story of their lives. Sometimes the project lasts only a short time, other works take a little longer. The business network forum I host also witnesses similar timelines.

Some of those attendees are blessed with quick returns on their investment in engagement. For other friends, those with particular niche skills, success sometimes takes a little time.

It depends on how often we’re heard.

However it is we gauge our success, I’m a believer in the time which we ‘put in,’ the conversation, together with the attention to detail.

To see any change in business prospects, we should understand that our intentions should be clear. Developing trust, to enable the fulfilment of our goals. 

Here’s an example of how not to ‘work a room.’

I’d met Harry first time this morning when he asked me what my current spend on PPE was?  I suggested was quite a minimal figure.

I’m working from home Harry, so the public presence is minimal.’

‘Oh, ok.’ Do you know anyone else who has a need to buy these items regularly? I thought for a minute and suggested he seek out conversations with the rest of our forum contingent. “Meanwhile, I’ll have a think about your question, thanks, Harry.”

Harry was gone in quick-time. During the thirty minutes he was with us I noticed he’d be dutifully handing out cards, seeking the opportunity.

At least Harry was ‘working on it.’ I did wonder though … whether he would be following up?

It takes all types of people to make an effective network. From the variety of organisations present, the personalities, and products. All sorts of people bringing plenty of ‘possibility’ to the room.

Some are, of course, hunting for the quick-fix, others content on working at educating the room on the aforesaid ‘niche skills’ they may bring.  Accountability is all about clarity and ownership, going the distance.

Rarely is credibility displayed with a quick introduction and an exchange of business cards … unless you are following up, to become referrable.

The world keeps turning

Who do we believe? We’re delivered ‘news’ daily – hourly – or by the minute(!) if, like the majority, we’re ‘geared up.’ Fake news or otherwise – who do we trust?

Nothing is certain unless it’s personal, or seen.

Is it me, or does it seem that as business owners we’ve been navigating these past few years far too gingerly? As barefoot navigates broken glass? Just when C-19 seems to fade we’re confronted by another global threat … yet the world keeps turning.

It’s tough enough concentrating on setting up, planning, and running a business, let alone earning a living. Everywhere we turn there are calls for help. Some at a very personal level, we’re distracted each time we see/hear the ‘latest news.’

So how do we keep the focus to stay the course?

We act as we always have done, don’t we?

‘So, we don’t listen?’ I hear you say.

Listening is good. ‘Turn the dreaded machines off?’ Yes, that’s a good idea.

Better still … we go and seek the opinion of trusted others …

Personally, I’ve found reaching out and talking with other like-minded businesses continues to help me. Especially during these past few years of ‘fakedom & scaremongery.’ Conversation is good for clarification.

By listening I hear support and solutions that I’ve known would be useful at some point. Perhaps not right away … it’s a top-up of the storage tank, my mind-map …

Within the right network there develops a kind of symbiotic relationship. Over time each person (each business) within the network grows, and we mature through regular conversation.

By engaging we learn to know what it is that may be useful to others in times of need and that’s a good thing, isn’t it?

Other often-overlooked benefits? An underlying feeling of being on the right side of the tracks. A sense of solidarity that you don’t have to be on your own – even though you ‘work for yourself.’

Not least. Over time, what becomes crystal-clear is that as a business owner you gain the testimony of peers. That, to me, is a wonderful asset.

Networking is so much more than a quick-fix breakfast or order-book management. Networking is about helping others grow, as you prosper yourself.

Make them smile

George and I had been friends for over 30 years.

I heard he wasn’t well so I made the call and you know, we picked up the conversation as if we were still in the same room. It was good to speak with him.

I even had the chance of telling George how much I missed him, his conversation, the common ground, his dubious sense of humour and the general ‘craic.’ 

I came away from the call feeling grateful for the time we’d spent together. I also realised that it was the only occasion I’d told him how much I appreciated our friendship.

It’s important to show our appreciation don’t you think? Even for the smallest of things. How often do we make a point of appreciating the companionship, advice, and guidance of our peers?

We share the bulk of our time with friends and family, we spend a good deal of time with business colleagues also and gratitude is an important part of any organisation, any network of like-minded people you care to mention …

After all, business is built on word-of-mouth, isn’t it?

You know, as much as we all persevere, putting in the work, sharing stories, the challenges, and successes … it’s important to understand that none of us are self-made. We meet many people along the path, supporting us in many unseen and different ways.

We also learn a lot as we’re influenced by the actions of others.

George? He made me smile. More though, his legacy resonates as I am now aware of the need to show a little more appreciation to those who help me along the path.

I’m grateful I was able to speak with George before it was too late.  

What’s your experience?

There was a time of course when I wasn’t considered an ‘expert’ in anything – least of all publishing. Sure, today the thirty+ years in the industry offer a kind of qualification, reassurance to potential clients. Although I’d never agree to be deemed an expert. Why? Because we’re always learning … and being an expert may be misconstrued as meaning, ‘one who knows all.’ 

Not me, no, I do not know all.

My industry (yours?) is subject to daily developments in technique and process. No matter how much knowledge or experience I gain developing skills, there will always be another. Someone who is better versed in a particular niche or style, program, or application.

The difference? Each of us has different strengths developed through experience and you could say I am very experienced although … no, never the expert.

I prefer to be the eternal student of life.

What about you?

Look at this another way. I’m pretty good at attempting jobs around the home. Basic tasks, maintenance is something I’ll tackle. I wouldn’t attempt any tricky electrical tasks though. The risk is too great. I’d call in an electrician.

In the past, I’ve been useful at predicting a useful investment opportunity. Although I’d consult ‘those who know’ before parting with any of my hard-won cash. (I wish!)

Likewise, if the car needed a wiper blade or bulb – I’m your man!  Anything major to attend to under the hood? I’m be calling the garage, that’s their action zone.

Life experience gives us all kinds of peripheral skills don’t you think? We get by, ‘we have a go’ because we’ve learned by doing already. 


When the big decisions need addressing and the risk of making the wrong choice has worrying implications … wouldn’t we be better off calling in a qualified professional?

Professional. It’s a better word than expert, don’t you think?

Besides. Like me, I’m sure you find that quality time has become increasingly scarce. Do you have the time? Time to spend on the distraction that takes you away from your core business? Or even the precious home time??

No? Me neither.

I’m a professional at making my clients happy by developing their messages. What’s your professional calling?


‘How many will be there, Charlie?’ Mari asked.

‘A good mix of men and women no doubt,’ I replied.

‘Oh great, I much prefer lots of people, it makes for better value‘I’ll see if I can make it.’ Came the reply.

Contrary to the claims of the paid-for member-driven organisations … networking is not about how many cards you collect, followers gained, or even, who ‘likes’ you.

Results come from authenticity, how we engage and deliver the message.

The reality is, most people attending events spend time with only a small number of people. These usually are the contacts they already know and feel comfortable with. Know why? Because the most important buying decisions come from multiple meetings.

Multiple meetings. Yet, networking is not a numbers game.

My focus has always been on the business of building relationships. The process is affinity, association.

So, unless I’m lucky enough to be invited along as a key speaker(!) I see no real point in ‘being the butterfly,’ from one to another, attempting to inform a delegation, en masse.

Who wants to be known as the frantic networker?

Those in a hurry (though perhaps not frantic) may be like Mari. HR is her business and it’s all about hitting targets. She is accountable to the corporation for results and, being hungry, Mari works hard.

Yes, it’s true that we create our own luck … we can find new business by turning up and simply ‘bumping into’ our next client. Someone new, who may be looking for specifically whatever it is you offer. This is how Mari, and many in the field of sales see networking.

If you don’t do, you don’t …

The opportunity that is networking, the anticipated ‘full room’ creates expectancy, even excitement, joy! Although, it can also be disappointing if the sole purpose of being there is for the new business alone. Hence we don’t find many ‘purely salespeople’ visiting the Weekly Business.

My advice to anyone heading along to a networking event … of any kind, whatever size? Spend time and expect nothing more in return other than an exchange in conversation.

Prepare your ‘story,’ listen and be ready to declare what you may be looking for. People love to help others, even more so if they see that you are comfortable in your own shoes …

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