Top tip – Don’t sell, be helpful

by Peter Bishop 
Owner at TEK Solutions in Fleet 
Chair at ECX Farnborough.

I help people with their IT and do this in two ways. The broken/fix it model and the remote managed support model. IT is becoming more complicated, not less, and people are busier than ever. TEK Solutions fixes the IT headache for people at home and in their business. TEK was established 13 years ago in Fleet and we operate in a 20-mile radius of here.

I believe that you get nothing without hard work, and the same is true of networking. Don’t underestimate the time that is needed for people to understand what you do. You know your business inside out; but others will need to hear your pitch more than once before they become confident about that you do. The 1-2-1 meetings play a big part in you being able to explain to people your approach and skill set (and to hear back from them of course). You will only recommend someone you both know and like, and as with any relationship, with networking it takes time.

Little things can make a big difference when it comes to making an impression on people. With networking, know before you part with your money that you will be able to attend 85%-90% of the scheduled meetings. Arrive early to every meeting. The value of small talk with a couple of people at the beginning before things get going is money in the bank. So too at the end; don’t shoot off if you can avoid it. Plan your diary so you can stick around if people present want to quiz you about anything in your area of expertise. This makes you look helpful – consider it an investment in your personal brand.

I’ve been involved with ECX Farnborough from day one. The groups works for me on many levels. I know I get good business from people in the group, so there’s never a question on a financial basis. The Farnborough groups is one of a dozen across Hampshire and each one is using social media to develop their local profile. All the major platforms are used to promote meetings and members, and while you can never accurately measure the benefit, it’s clear in the Farnborough area, ECX is leading the way compare to other networking groups.

I run TEK Solutions from home, so the fortnightly ECX meetings are like my ‘water cooler’ opportunity i.e. the chance to talk about nothing particular with people that I get on with. I have always liked that ECX Hampshire meetings are fortnightly. Weekly is too frequent and not necessary in my view. You can visit a ECX group twice without commitment, so there really is nothing to lose and everything to gain.


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