For me, the art and importance of networking fits well with this definition. Many people say they don’t have time for networking because they are too busy. This is like saying: “we have enough business at the moment, so we don’t need to market ourselves.” If you follow this, eventually your work will dry up and you will have to work extra hard to raise your profile when it does. 

Networking has been fundamental to the growth of Cleankill Pest Control. From a business that was started in a spare bedroom, we now have an award-winning company with 50 staff and a turnover heading towards £4 million.

Networking is about the building of relationships and friendships without expecting immediate sales. My chiropractor, my printers, my financial advisors, my vehicle lease company and my PR company all came from networking. Several of them took a couple of years before they started working for us. Many of our customers have met us at previous exhibitions and have remembered us when they have had a need.

If you can tell people about your business in a non-pushy environment, then they will remember you and your company, and they may tell others about you. Conversations like “I’ve been using Rintokell for many years but they are so expensive…” ”Well, you should give Cleankill a go…” regularly take place, and what can be more precious than a third-party endorsement?

Some customers and suppliers will develop into friends and when they do, listen to them. My accountant is a good example. He’s fantastic at his day job, but also has a wealth of knowledge about other things which don’t directly impact the bottom line – but, in reality, everything is connected. Often if you manage to resolve something in your life outside work it enables you to do your job better.

Networking is about making connections, not customers – and it really needs to be face to face. Yes, during the pandemic you could network from the comfort of your own home thanks to Zoom, but you can’t look someone in
the eyes and shake their hand virtually. As a former salesperson, I know that’s what cuts really through – not emails and telephone calls – although they are all part of the sales journey and the
seven ‘touchpoints’ often needed before you make a sale. 

But, most importantly, I always remember the advice, ‘if people get to know you and then get to like you they will buy from you’.

Paul Bates is the Managing Director of Cleankill Pest Control. Based in Kenley, South Croydon, the company is a leader in the field of pest control and deals with everything from rodents to pest birds.
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