The benefits of networking and establishing an expansive business network are manifold, writes Ross Finegan.
Business networking has always played an important role in the way we, as Irish people, do business. We’re a sociable bunch who like to meet people face-to-face and get a feel for them before we’ll sit down at the table to do business with them.
Today, perhaps as a result of the economic downturn, networking is big business and there are countless organisations to choose from, depending on your networking goals and objectives.
I’ve worked in financial services for 24 years. I began my career with PwC in 1990, before making the move to Deloitte in 1994, JP Morgan in 1996 and then establishing Lonsdale Capital Partners in 2008. I’ve learned many things during this time, and among them is the fact that you stand a far better chance of succeeding in business if you surround yourself with the right people.
According to the IDA there are more than 500 financial services institutions in Ireland and, as a country, we are the seventh largest provider of wholesale financial services in the EU.
Meanwhile in the UK, an estimated 8% of the entire workforce is placed in financial services. In short, a lot of people work in this space. Despite this, networking is not something we tend to utilise as much as perhaps we could. Here are three reasons why you need to get out and start networking more.
Whether you’re a financial advisor, accountant, venture capitalist or a banker, the opportunity to generate new business through networking is significant.”
1. Networking can assist you during the hiring process. Good people make businesses better, so key to any organisation is the quality of your people. Interview processes are typically rushed and pressured, while meeting and getting to know someone in a business networking environment gives you an opportunity to assess their capabilities in a more balanced environment and setting, over a longer period of time.
Furthermore, referencing is far more reliable as referees will generally be known to you.
2. It’s a handy tool for new business generation. Perhaps one of the most obvious reasons why many business owners decide to join a business network is referral-based. The generation of quality referrals tends to be of a much higher quality than those received through other marketing activities. In some cases the referrals will even be pre-qualified, significantly increasing your chances of converting them into real business. As an example, we recently acquired well-known Irish schoolbook publishers C.J. Fallon. This came directly from a discussion I had with a fellow member of the IIBN, her knowledge of the situation and her willingness to refer us.
3. A problem shared really is a problem halved. Having like-minded business people to talk to also gives you the opportunity to get advice from them on all sorts of things related to your business.
I constantly discuss new ideas/opportunities with people, seek their advice and insight, look for better ways to do things and learn about different industries/sectors. Lonsdale found its Irish lawyers and tax advisors through the IIBN and has significantly improved its structuring, processing and execution of deals as a result.
Whether you’re a financial advisor, accountant, venture capitalist or a banker, the opportunity to generate new business through networking is significant.
As the economy continues to recover my expectation is that the role networking plays is going to become more significant. While during the last few years the focus for most people has been on generating new leads, I believe the importance of support and advice, combined with choosing the best people, is going to play a greater part in the years to come.
Ross Finegan is co-chair of the IIBN London Chapter and a partner at Lonsdale Capital.