James Caan: The Key to business progression

It may seem too easy but you’d be surprised by the amount of business I’ve gained through successful networking and this is why it is such key component to a business’ success, particularly in the early days.

Typically, entrepreneurs are used to going at it alone so often miss the opportunity (or even avoid the opportunity) to network and build relationships with key figures in the industry.

Making an effort to network can open doors and aid the development of your reputation in the industry and although it’s sometimes a daunting experience, the potential benefits make it all worthwhile. It is natural to feel nervous when networking, when I was first starting out I would freeze speaking to a large group of strangers but, in time, I gained confidence and it wasn’t so scary anymore. I find the best way to tackle nerves is to stop thinking of it as purely a business opportunity and have some fun! It is a social event at the end of the day, relax and people will be more likely to warm to you.

Remember, It’s not just about you so don’t spend the whole time constantly trying to sell your services – networking is a two way process and to do it effectively you need to listen, observe and contribute to the conversation. It may be tedious but it is critical, if you’re not talking about your business, who is?

We’re all guilty of underestimating the power of networking, myself included. As entrepreneurs we are reluctant to take time away from working hard to network without realising networking is actually one of the most import and remunerative marketing strategies out there!

Making a real effort to network will open your eyes to business opportunities you didn’t even know existed – and vice versa. Only recently I was at a property conference and just by chance I was speaking with somebody who said “James, I understand you do real estate I’ve got a great building you may be interested in” and like that I find out he has a property opposite my office for a great price.

You never know what is around the corner and networking is a great way to seek opportunities and make a lasting impression on potential clients and competitors. It will help establish your branding and enable the scale of your business through word of mouth. The only way a business can survive is by gaining customers and a good customer acquisition strategy requires a lot of effort and relationship building but the availability of networking makes it the easiest way to penetrate the market and progress.

Image: Success via Shutterstock


About James Caan

James Caan CBE is one of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs. He made his fortune through the global success of his Recruitment companies, Alexander Mann and Humana International, before founding private equity firm Hamilton Bradshaw in 2004. He is best known for joining the panel of the hit BBC show Dragons’ Den, and more recently, The Business Class on CNBC. A passionate supporter of small businesses, James chairs the Government’s Start Up Loans scheme, which provides funding and mentoring to budding entrepreneurs.