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As well as running a social media marketing company, I’ve been involved in networking events for over a decade.

Running my own successful events for the last 5 years. And for the 5 years previous being Marketing Assistant or host for other groups.

Networking plays a huge part in my business and despite having 100 people booking on to every event, I’m surprised more people don’t do it.

But I want to be honest and tough on some of the things people don’t tell you about networking.

So this is

“Can I be honest? 12 Things I’d Like Every Small Business To Know About Networking”

Not all networking takes place at networking meetings

You’re probably networking without knowing it.

I worked in the music industry for 14 years and I’d never heard of the phrase networking until I launched a social media business.

But over those 14 years I’d networked. Sat at the back of Night & Day Cafe with other industry professionals, I’d go for drinks, be introduced to people on email and grew my network. I was networking, without knowing I was networking.

And now I’ll meet people at running events, out at restaurants, on the tram, at gigs.

Networking isn’t just for official networking events.

Everyone was scared at their 1st networking meeting

“So … I’m an introvert and I’ve got to turn up at an 8am breakfast networking meeting to meet a room of total strangers. And then introduce myself to a room of people who have been in business for years and I’ve literally just started my business”

That was myself when I went to my very 1st networking meeting.

I was scared as hell. And I was probably scared as hell for about the 1st 5 networking meetings as it was always new faces.

Over time it got a lot easier, as I knew there would be a friendly face in any room I walked into.

I’m now nearly 15 years into running Altrincham HQ and I’m still an introvert, but I’ve learnt to deal with it.

Don’t not network because you’re scared … everyone was scared on day one.

The most connected person in the room is always the host

Speak to the host.

It sounds simple.

But so many people turn up to an event that someone else has organised.

And then hide in the corner.

If a person can bring 25-100 people together in a room (often on a cold rainy day in Manchester) then you can guarantee they

A) Know lots of people
B) Know lots of people that could be your customers
C) Know lots of people who can help your business
D) Probably are that one person who can truly help your business

Make your life easier and your business grow quicker simply by taking the time to get to know the host.

It’s unlikely you’ll make a sale at your 1st event

We all want to make more sales.

I get that.

And despite what people say about networking for “relationships”, “Connection”, “Education”, “Support”, “partnerships” it’s all geared towards growing the business and making more sales.

But don’t expect to turn up at a networking event and make a sale on your very 1st visit.

The only reason I’ve ever made a sale the 1st time after meeting someone is that they already know me from social media and several other business connections have mentioned my name. It’s never a 100% cold lead.

The reality is in most cases the Meet Like Know Trust process can take weeks or months to make your 1st sale via networking.

Some people won’t be able to afford your services

Some people in the room won’t be able to afford your services.

That’s a big reality.

They might be turning up to events.

They might appear busy and successful.

They might be all over social media.

But when it comes to it and you mention your “affordable” offer for your service … the words come they out with “It’s out of my budget at the moment”

The key is to be understanding and simply be that person that is still there when they need you.

Some people will be economical with the truth

Some people will lie to your face.

Some people will stretch the truth.

I’ve met people who have claimed to have work with Disney when their only business experience before reinventing as a business coach was being a secretary.

I’ve met people who have claimed to work with huge brands when the reality is they got invited to an opening event by their friend at a PR company.

You have to do your due diligence on anyone you meet at networking. If you’re spending money with them at the very least read their reviews.

You won’t like everyone

You don’t have to like everyone in the room.

Why would you expect to?

Some of you reading this won’t like members of your extended family or the in-laws, so why would you expect to like 50 people who just happen to own local businesses.

And over the years people will fall out with you for absolutely petty reasons.

A few things people have fallen out with me for

  • Saying someone drinks a lot of coffee
  • Eating a No Salmon Vegan Sandwich
  • Saying that a footballer Kurt Zouma kicking a cat is a bad thing (and that eating animals also harms animals)

If you network often enough, you’ll find your sort of people.

You will meet Pyramid Seller / MLM / Network Marketers

Thankfully this is becoming less and less frequent as they’ve start “recruiting” people on Facebook

But you will meet Pyramid Seller / MLM / Network Marketers at networking events

Be polite and move on as they’re generally less than 1-2% of attendees at events these days.

Half The Room Won’t Listen To Your Elevator Pitch

Whilst your bashing out your perfect elevator pitch that you rewrote, perfected and made you think I’ve nailed this.

At least half the room will be thinking of their own elevator pitch and not truly listening.

Some people will switch off the moment you mention what you do.

Some people will see a competitor and be listening to they can raise the bar on their pitch.

Some people will only be listening out for a snippet of information they can reel you in with.

But 10% of those room will be those people that care, that will help you, that will become your customers.

Some people will ghost you

You meet someone.

You really feel you’ve got on well.

And then you send the follow up email to meet up for a coffee, send them information they asked for, introduce them to someone.

And you get no reply.



It happens and it makes you feel terrible.

You wonder if it’s you.

It’s not – it’s them.

If you offer professional services some people will “ask to pick your brain over a coffee”

“Can I pick your brains over coffee?”

What … you mean you want my 24 years’ experience and to spend an hour of my time for the price of £2.50

A lot of professional services owners will come across this at networking meetings.

Getting to know each over a coffee is a different thing that being probed for information for free and it’s important to know the difference.

One of the key reasons we launched our “Pick Our Brains Over A Curry” was to offer value whilst valuing our time.

Networking 100% delivers business – but you have to work at it

Some of the above points will be hard truths and awakenings for you.

But I want to end this blog on 2 positives.

Networking 100% delivers businesses for all business types.

But you have to invest the time to it.

I attend 2-3 networking events a month.

When I started and was establishing my business, I attended 2 a week.

On top of the meeting, you have to spend time on connecting, following up and 121’s

Networking – the word work is in its name!

Networking + Social Media = Superpower

Networking Works
Social Media Works
Networking + Social media is a superpower

If you’re doing one of the above, but not doing the other you’ll get more sales and results.

But if you’re doing both you’ll get double or triple the sales of just doing one of them.

Would you add anything to 12 Things I’d Like Every Small Business To Know About Networking?

Lets us know via email on


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Alex McCann

Author Alex McCann

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