Are you loyal to your business value set?
Do you know – and remain loyal to – your core value set in business?
July’s blog is inspired by two recent events: Firstly being referred to as a comfortable, friendly networking group. And secondly, experiencing a bad debt – my first non-payer in years! Both made me consider my business values and if, during ten years of self-employment, I had remained loyal to them.
Stepping beyond the mechanics
In the networking business within which I operate, there are often articles about the mechanics of networking. In fact, most of my own events focus to some extent on connection skills. However, business, and indeed networking, needs to step beyond the mechanics of clever marketing and adept sales techniques and do business at a human level; identifying and committing to your value set and, perhaps more importantly, to that of your customers, prospects, suppliers and associates. It’s about relating to their value set, understanding what makes your connections tick, what worries them and what pleases them in business and how you may align with their needs and their values.
Is your value set negotiable?
There’s only one way I do business… and networking… and actually friendship for that matter (both business or personal), and that’s according to a value set that includes integrity, honesty, empathy, authenticity and a respect for the individuals I’m speaking to and for the prized businesses they have worked so hard to grow.
Between the networking events I run, I work with small business owners on their networking strategy and business development. BUT – I only want to work with those who share or respect my value set. It’s my baseline and it’s non-negotiable and without it we’re not going to get the best out of each other. I’d be less committed to championing your business, introducing you to valuable contacts and supporting you to grow.
On networking events themselves – I attend many and I run many. I see the good and the not-so-good. Fortunately, the feedback I get is placing me at the right end of the value scale which I believe is due to hard work but mostly because I won’t compromise my value set.
Poor business value sets
Two traits I abhor the most in business are non-payers and bad networkers – and both emanate from a lack of respect and a poor business value set.
On non-payers: As any fellow small business owner will know, cash is king (turnover vanity, profit sanity etc etc). Respect one another and pay your dues for products and services rendered. In 10 years in business I’ve only had three bad debts. The first was sizeable and taught me valuable lessons at a time I was still green and desperately learning the ropes. The next two have been small in value but no less frustrating. Payment is about respect, the biggest value in the set for small business owners. Ignore at your peril as it can damage business credibility and networking referral potential.
On bad networking: I’ve blogged before about my dislike of ‘snatch and grab’ networkers as I call them, handing out cards like they’re sweets and playing at card swaps. Why the desperation? Why the misunderstanding about how networking works? Connections take time and synergies may not become evident for months or even years.
Connectivity not connection comes from shared values
You can’t connect at a deeper level with everyone, all of the time, especially as your network expands. Networking, on or offline, offers instant connection but not instant connectivity. I never cull my contacts as some do, but I also don’t accept all connection requests. I connect with shared values and synergy in mind even if these take time to reveal themselves. Work on the connections you can and the opportunities of the moment but don’t ignore those in the background for they may move to forefront faster than you may expect with investment and patience. If it’s next month or next year that an opportunity develops, then so be it I say.
Above all, networking is not all about contacts. Personal and business rewards manifest in many other ways. I love the fact that each week I have no idea who may enter my life through networking that may offer both business and personal value.
So, take a chill-pill eager, hurried networkers seeking abundant contact lists and immediate business. Invest in each other and beyond this remain loyal to your value set because ultimately “like” will attract “like” and you’ll connect with the right type of people who you genuinely enjoy doing business with.
By Kirsty James, Owner, Colony Networking.
Kirsty James works one-to-one with small businesses on networking strategy, business development planning and signposting to suitable business support groups and local events. She also organises Colony’s mixed-gender and women’s networking events in the Warrington area and assists third parties to organise their own lead generation events.
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