One-to-ones are an important element of networking. When carried out with the right approach and motivation, they can be a highly effective means of building professional relationships and ultimately helping you to build your business.

In this blog, we look at how to get the most out of a 1-2-1.

It is better to give than to receive

A 1-2-1 should be about giving. When you choose someone to have a 1-2-1 with at a networking event, choose someone whom you can help. It might as straightforward as you needing the service they are offering. Alternatively, you might have industry knowledge to share or a contact for them. They might be the perfect person to do the job you’ve just had to turn down. Showing your generous nature can go a long way towards building a business relationship.

Network, don’t advertise

Please, please don’t swoop down on the person you perceive could give you work and bombard them with information about yourself and your business. If you want to do a sales pitch, the business world has plenty of opportunities…but a 1-2-1 is not one of them. All you’re likely to do is put people off. If you think you might be guilty of this, educate yourself about the more subtle level on which a 1-2-1 operates and you might find you start having more productive conversations.

Quiet people are talkative with the right people

Some people are naturally quieter than others, but they still deserve to be heard. Draw people into conversation about their business (not yours!) by asking them questions about it, e.g. how did you come to work in this sector, what do you like about it, how long have you been doing it? Who, what, where and why are useful sentence-starters, and help you avoid the conversation-killing yes/no answer.

What’s in it for me?

That is a very good question. On the one hand, we go on about the merits of networking for growing your own business, on the other, we’re writing a blog telling you to concentrate on helping others. However, there are many advantages for you in listening to other people talk about their business. Here are three of them:

1. It will establish you as a generous, giving person – remember that people buy from people and your personality counts for a lot.

2. It allows you to listen for opportunities where you can help directly (i.e. pick up some work!), only you’ll be doing it around their specific point of pain, so they’re more likely to convert. For example, you might work in IT. You’ve chosen to speak to someone from a charity because you know someone who can help with funding. Then you learn from them that the funding situation is a nightmare because the accounting software isn’t fit for purpose, at which point you can volunteer your services and they might well be accepted. If you’d sat yourself down and immediately started chuntering on about cyber security when they already had it covered, neither of you would have gained anything.

3. It helps you build relationships. You might not need their services now, but they could be a good contact in the future. When we create a genuine network, we create a “business family” whose expertise we can draw on, and whom we can refer our own clients to. This enables us to offer better client care, a key driver for repeat business.

Networking is a key skill for all our franchisees, as you’ll know if you’ve ever met them at a networking event! If you’re interested in working more flexibly and running your own business, find out more about our franchising opportunities here.  

See also: Doing a 50 hour working week from home? It’s time to change your working!

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