Yorkshire attitudes are perfect for making most of networking: Mel Hird

One thing Yorkshire people are well known for is their open and friendly nature. In the business world, it means professionals are open to getting together and helping each other out.

If the forecasts are to be believed, we are in for a tough year and one that will require every business person to have a support network.

It has never been more important to rebuild a professional network than after Covid and facing an economic downturn.When people come from outside the region to networking events, they are often amazed about how open people are about their business, the worries and wins.

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Yorkshire people have each other's backs and will do their best to help each other when needed.Even in a recession, there is an opportunity at every turn.

Mel Hird shares her insight. Picture: Simon DewhurstMel Hird shares her insight. Picture: Simon Dewhurst
Mel Hird shares her insight. Picture: Simon Dewhurst

For businesses that have prepared, there will be opportunities to win market share over weaker competitors or even acquire them.

Management teams should rigorously map their cash requirements over the coming 12 months and seek to plug any gaps before they become an issue.

Professionals across the finance and deal-making community are always happy to advise on the best way forward.Networking isn't just about making new connections.

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It's also essential to keep existing stakeholders engaged with what you do.

Take time to keep suppliers, referral sources and broader industry contacts engaged with your work.Don't be afraid to ask contacts for help, which can range from referring work to information on market conditions or introductions.

Put in place a structured plan to keep in touch with key contacts regularly and wider stakeholders at least twice a year.

Now is the time for every business to try something new.

The world has changed since Covid in many ways and has opened up opportunities to do things differently.Bill Gates once said, 'the internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow'.

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Digital channels make it easier than ever to have a face-to-face conversation, even if it is on either end of a Zoom call.It is essential to keep staff engaged with the business, its goals, and its vision.

Companies will likely ask their employees to do more for less this year. They are more likely to go the extra mile when they understand why it is necessary.When preparing a networking programme, take time to understand what you want from each event or interaction.

It could be a request, or you could seek to add value to the people you meet through market insight.

All too often, people take valuable time out of their day to attend events with no objective or plan.It's important to have good questions and good answers prepared for any interaction.

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Always keep in mind that networking is about developing relationships as well as contacts. People want to be heard and appreciated for sharing their thoughts and experiences.

We are lucky to live in a county where people will welcome you with open arms and do what they can to help. So, it's time to start mapping how networking can support your business.​​​​​​​

Mel Hird is director of Fresh Thinking Advisory.