November 2017
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The Leading Edge - Taking Care of Business
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10 Myths About Networking

 

10 Myths About Networking

You either love or hate networking. You either think of it as a fun way to be active in your community, a necessary evil, or a waste of time. To be honest, it can be all those things. Much depends on the way you approach it and whether you buy into the many myths surrounding this age-old method of promoting yourself and your business.

1. It's no longer necessary - LinkedIn has replaced it.

While LinkedIn is a great way to network online, it can be a little indiscriminate. If you have 500+ connections how much actual networking are you doing with them? Even if you are actively engaged with your connections, meeting other local business owners face-to-face makes your company part of the local community.

2. All business owners should network.

Actually no. If you hate networking so much that you dread attending an event, don't do it. Why put yourself through the pain? If you are a nervous, shy, wreck when networking, you're probably doing more harm than good. Find another way to market your business.

3. You have to be a Type A personality.

You are not trying to be the most popular person in the room. In fact, introverts are usually better listeners and listening is a successful strategy when networking.

4. Every networking event is worth attending.

Not true, be selective and only attend events where there will be interesting people you genuinely want to connect with.

5. Networking is about giving out as many cards as you can.

Nope, what a waste of time and money to give cards to people who have no need or desire to buy what you sell. Keep your cards in your pocket until you meet someone card-worthy! Oh, and have the highest quality, best designed cards you can afford, so that when you do give one out the recipient is impressed.

6. The key goal when networking is to sell something.

Unless it's to sell yourself, then no. The likelihood of you selling something at a networking event is remote. You are there to make useful contacts and connections not find customers necessarily. If you do get a customer, that's a bonus.

7. You should talk to as many people as possible.

It's not about numbers it's about quality. If you know someone at the event who is well connected, talk to them first and ask them if they know of anyone you should connect with. In any case, it's less about talking to people and more about listening to them. If you listen twice as much as you talk you'll be far more effective.

8. You need a good elevator pitch.

People at an event who reel off a well-rehearsed elevator speech almost always sound cheesy. That's not to say you shouldn't be able to explain what you do and what you sell concisely in 15-20 seconds, but tailor it to your audience. Make it relevant and authentic.

9. It's a competition.

Don't be the person running around trying to meet everyone - the person to whom networking is a sport. You know the type, it's that person constantly looking over people's shoulders to see whether there is someone better, or more important, to meet. It reeks of desperation and is ineffective. Networking is about building relationships, extending the range of your brand and building credibility.

10. Networking can only be done face-to-face.

Number one in our list promoted face-to-face networking, but the online variety is also important. In today's social media hyped world, networking can be done on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and just about anywhere else. Remember, the same rules apply.


Next time you attend a networking event, relax - take all the pressure off by removing any set goals such as meeting a certain number of people, collecting/distributing x number of cards, making a number of appointments, or selling something. Mix and mingle, listen to what people have to say, be helpful, and offer assistance. Give more than you take and you will soon discover that business has a habit of finding you.

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10 Myths About Networking

 

Canadian Small Business by the Numbers

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada publishes key small business statistics annually. This information provides a useful insight into the Canadian economy for small business owners and entrepreneurs and those who provide services to them.

This article discusses some of the key findings which we consider will be of interest to readers. It should be noted that government's definition of small business (a business with 1 to 99 employees) may be significantly different to that of the average business owner.

At the end of 2015 there were 1.17 million businesses employing people in Canada of which 1.14 million were small businesses. That's a staggering 97.9% - without question small businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy. In terms of employment, small businesses employ 8.2 million individuals which is 70.5% of the total private labour force. Of these businesses 78.5% were in the service-producing sector and 21.5% in the goods-producing sector.

Of course, to many of us a firm with even 50 employees is large, so what about micro-enterprises? Those who only employee one to four people? Impressively, these account for 54.1% of all private employers - the largest small to medium enterprise (SME) group.

Now, it gets really interesting. When we extend the range to include five to nineteen employees, we account for 86.2% of all employer businesses.

Geographically, more than half of all small employer businesses are in Ontario and Quebec (642,250). British Columbia leads Western Canada with 176,014 small businesses (December 2015) and Nova Scotia leads the Atlantic provinces with 29,298. However, relative to population (i.e. number of businesses per 1,000 of population) Alberta and PEI have the greatest number.

Every sector has high growth companies (definition: a firm with annualized growth rate of greater than 20 percent, over a three-year period, and with 10 or more employees at the beginning of the period). The heaviest concentrations were in construction, administrative and support services, transportation and warehousing.

How are these businesses financing themselves? Just over 50% of small to medium enterprises sought external financing.

Over 80% of start-ups (2-years or younger) used personal financing to get their business up and running. This was usually due to a lack of credit history or collateral. The bank of mom and dad still reigns supreme.

Provincially, small businesses are vital to the economy and contributed an average of 30% to the gross domestic product (2014 figures). British Columbia and Alberta businesses outperformed the rest of the country with figures of 33% and 32%.

In terms of demographics, the majority of companies are owned by men (64.7%). In 2014, women majority owned 15.7% of SME's, and equally owned with men 19.7%. Female entrepreneurs are most common in information, administration, healthcare, recreation and other service industries.

A little over 47% of small business owners were aged between 50-64 in 2014. Educationally, 38% of small business owners have a post-secondary degree; this rises to over 60% for medium-sized enterprises.

As a small business or micro-enterprise owner, make no mistake you play a vital part in the Canadian economy.

Read the full report.

Read the full report in French.

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10 Myths About Networking

 

Coach's Corner - Making Thoughtful Decisions

"One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes... and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility."
Eleanor Roosevelt

Last month we looked at the question "What are your intentions?" and saw that in everything we do, we do with intent. Whether the intention is conscious or not, there is always a purpose behind it, a reason for acting or doing something.

Similarly, in life we are always faced with choosing and deciding. Whether it is a simple choice of "What are we going to have for lunch?" or a more important decision affecting our life and career, the choices we make lead us on a journey in certain directions. It is apparent that everything is the result of choices and decisions, some more profound than others but nevertheless moving us forward on a path.

How do we as an individual or as a group arrive at decisions? This is a good question for us to reflect upon. Depending upon our personality, we may take a great deal of time and thought to arrive at a decision. Others of us may reach a decision quickly and more intuitively. Some of us will be worried about the decisions we have made, while others of us confidently stand behind our choices. Knowing how we arrive at decisions and make choices allows us to tackle tough decisions in the future. What have we learned from past decisions? If you had a chance to change a decision, what would you do differently? Who could help you make this decision?

After looking at how we approach decisions and choices, it is important to be mindful of our decision-making skills and tendencies when approaching the challenge of a new decision. Taking the time to ask ourselves questions such as, what are the choices we have for making this decision? What are the constraints limiting our choices? What concerns us about certain choices? What is the ideal choice?

Sometimes we procrastinate when making and standing behind a decision. At that point, we need to ask ourselves, what are we afraid of? What will happen if we prolong our decision, or don't make the decision?

There are always choices to be made. How we approach making them and thinking about them, in most cases, will effect how we make the decision and help lead us to make the right decision.

"You make choices every day and almost every hour that keep you walking in the light or moving away toward darkness." Henry B. Eyring

Paul Abra, Certified Executive Coach,
Motivated Coaching and Development

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