Technology maybe destroying your business relationships – is there a better way to connect with people in the modern world?

After 25 years as an internet consultant, I have begun to pull back from the digital abyss. Don’t get me wrong, I know this stuff, from the beginnings of html coding and purchasing domain names – I’ve lost track of how many I’ve owned over the years – to how my watch talks to my bathroom scales! I’ve evolved as the internet has, learning to see the opportunities as they arise, as well as capitalising on my disadvantages – I’m the dyslexic entrepreneur! And to be an entrepreneur, you need ideas, people and vision – and the best place to find that combination is in a local coffee shop at 7:30 in the morning.

Introducing Elite6, I’m not actually going to talk about that here though – click on the link if you want to learn more – but come back if you want to understand more, and I’ll help you appreciate the difference. You see, clicking on the link gave you information, but what you need is insight; the link gave you knowledge, what you need is guidance, the link suggested opportunities; what you need is direction. And that is why I’m stepping back – because the Internet and the digital world – as fascinating as it is – is just another tool in your toolbox. Business isn’t about the means, it’s about the end. It isn’t about how you do your work or run your business, it’s about the relationships and satisfying the people who pay you.

The Internet is a network – there are careers built around this – but it is a sub-network in the world of the real network, people. Perhaps we should talk about the PeopleNet – your business is your domain name, your local coffee shop is your host, your network group is your search engine, each member is a link in your favourites – I’m sure you get the idea. But however you choose to look at it, business is always about relationships, and relationships involve people. So since your clients are people, it makes sense that your business support group is also people. One reason for this is we often find that different people in the group – each whom have different businesses to ours – may also be dealing with our client, albeit from their perspective. And it’s amazing how a bit of background knowledge about someone can help us in our dealings with them.

Another strength about networking, is the sense of equality – regardless of the wealth, company size or car out the front – we’re all sitting around the tables laughing at someone’s bad joke, or suggesting how someone might proceed when they’re in a situation they haven’t been in before. This is the depth, the connectedness – the business family. This is where we celebrate our successes and get advice over our failures. Oh, and don’t make the mistake of thinking that failure is negative – as Michael Mayell from CookieTime recently told our Friday morning forum – failure is just another opportunity to learn on the road to success. Our Friday forums have grown to be amazing – from the range of topics we discuss to the diversity of expertise and experience that is forthcoming. This is a prime example of the insight, guidance and direction I mentioned earlier.

When people like Michael Mayell offer to tell their story of how an idea became a huge success – of how vision and perspiration was transformed into reality and a very nice Porsche – the rest of us need to sit up and listen. The internet helped in his research, but it was real people who paid for the Porsche.

I like my toys – I’m a gadget junkie – but I’m looking to going back to pads and pens and flip charts, because these tools are the ones that make connecting easier. One of our members has an iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil – and loves them – but he prefers to think with an A2 desk pad and a packet of coloured marker pens. This way others can grab a pen, make a note, draw an arrow and link together different ideas that hadn’t previously been noticed. That’s the power of connection – on the pad, in the coffee shop, in the forum, on the PeopleNet. Does networking work? Ask someone who’s in one: “why do you keep going back?” And be prepared to listen as a real person shares their insights with you – not even Google’s algorithms can do that.