British expats in the UAE often end up running their own business. Are you a one-man band yourself?
If so, here are three tips from an experienced Dubai networker on how to put on that final surge of business promotion before the festive season kicks in …
Quantify your networking
Dubai is abuzz with networking opportunities: if you’re not active in this area, browse through meetup.com and see the different events you can attend.
Maybe you’ve done a lot of networking already – but have you actually kept track of which networking events really generated potential customers or referees? By keeping track, you can be more selective in future of which events you attend – and therefore have resources to use elsewhere. And, if there’s only one of you in the business, that’s a result!
Try out some simple “network accounting” at the next event – take a brief headcount of the number of attendees. Then rifle through the business cards afterwards and make a frank count of all the people you have met who may help generate business for you; either directly, or by introduction to their colleagues or even their HR or finance teams.
You may find that the more specific the networking ‘theme’, the better results. For example, a gathering related to a shared passion for classic films is likely to contain more of ‘your type of person’ – the type relevant to your business – than the casual networking affairs without a theme.
“Network accounting” can maximise your time away from the office or home as well as reduce the feeling that finding a lead is a one-in-a-thousand situation.
Make your contact book… their contact book
Each of us likely knows hundreds of people in Dubai, either through networking, previous jobs, friends-and-their-friends, or a club or society.
Time perhaps to give a little – in order to later receive. We’re talking about boosting your businesses for your many existing contacts in order to boost your own business by enlarging your contact list.
Search your contact book and see if you can match contacts up. For example:
If you’ve just met a person from a law firm, who do you know who regularly needs documents notarised, or even legal advice?
If a friend is considering a start-up, who have you met recently who can chat through the different onshore or freezone options?
Have you met anyone in the same industry as your friendwho’s looking for work?
Some companies are happy to give you a referral fee for making an introduction that turns into business. Consider such a referral fee a welcome bonus – but remember that the bigger win here is in generating goodwill by helping others grow; by you helping other businesses, your own business will remain in the forefront of their attention, and they may well be grateful too.
It’s that old rule of reciprocity!
Give your industry knowledge a platform
Get serious about blogging and writing. It’s a highly cost-effective way of marketing your services. How much of your professional know-how actually gets out of your head and into the world on a daily basis? Your help to colleagues and clients daily is likely just a glimpse of the mountains of experience you can offer in your field of expertise. It’s important to grasp that your business needs you, in these modern digital times, to publish your time-worn insights online and in print. You need to let the world know who you are, and what you know.
No doubt you see every day such articles published on Linkedin or Facebook. So ask yourself: why is it that person in particular publishing timely, relevant articles about your industry or wider economy, and you are not? Are the ‘likes’, reposts and comments below their article proof enough that the written word can reach potential clients; that it got them talking; that the writer and respondent may have taken the conversation ‘offline’ to discuss further? Get in on the act.
It is true that not everyone is a wordsmith. But we bet you wouldn’t have to search too far among your contacts to find someone who can help you. And if you get some experience you might end up being courted by newspapers and magazines (always hungry for more content and industry expertise). Holborn Assets’ very own Keren Bobker regularly contributes to the Debt Panel advice section of The National newspaper, for example. Down this route, you’ve got a whole editorial team to help you knock your pearls of wisdom into shape!