I’ve been running my own businesses for 21 years. It’s been brilliant, though tough at times. Brilliant when you’ve more work than you can do, and tough when the arse falls out of the economy, and you realise that your lovely clients are the only protection you have from the small claims court. I used to worry about that, but then I learned a really valuable lesson. Fatuous though it may seem to you, here it is-
Your network will save your business, given the chance and cared for.
That’s it. And once I’d learned the lesson, I started to learn how to network effectively. And I now do it as well as I can with three words in mind.
- Generosity– people are lovely when they realise you only want to help them.
- Sincerity– Everyone is a hero to themselves
- Strokes– Men are like dogs, women are like cats and we all love to be ‘stroked’ for who we are
So when a client is going for a new job and needs some help with a presentation, I help, if I can, because it’s a generous thing to do. When a client needs a ‘lift’ or does something that I appreciate, even if it’s new shoes, a haircut or a tough decision made well, I tell them. And every opportunity I get to honour them for their skills, generosity, faith or anything, I tell them.
And the only rule I have for myself, and they have for me, is that I’m sincere when I do all of those things. If I’m thinking that it’s a self-serving thing, then I’ll always know; and they will too, and that always sets you a step back, because people just know when they’re being flattered or induced. But if it’s sincere, and that is a hard thing to know, especially when the wind is blowing in your face, it’s a marvellous thing. And it will save your life.