Jon Baker

Successful Business Networking

Are you hiding your light under a bushel?

Posted on: 19/08/2013   By: Jon Baker

Business Networking is, for many small businesses, what petrol is to a car. It fuels growth and drives performance forwards. But to some, it's not as powerful a fuel as others, so this article looks at some elements of business networking that will help you improve your results ...

Successful Business Networking is about shining your light, not hiding it.

Successful Business Networking is about shining your light, not hiding it.

The other major use of oil derivatives such as petrol has been to provide light. As far back as biblical times, we see references to lanterns fuelled by oil or the use of oil based candles. It's from here the oft quoted phrase "hiding your light under a bushel" comes from.

Before we get into the phrase and what is has to do with networking, let's deal with the other two questions:

  • Firstly, what is a bushel?

    A bushel is an archaic measure, equivalent to 8 gallons. It was not normally used for liquids, but for measuring produce such as grain or fruit. The measuring tool was the bushel basket, woven to a standard size. The name of this tool was often abbreviated from 'bushel basket' to simply 'bushel', so the word came to be used interchangeably as either the amount of produce (a bushel of corn) or the measuring basket (a bushel).

  • Why would you hide your light under it?

    Err, well that's the point. Would you light a lamp, only to hide it under a large basket, covering the light it produces and potentially causing a fire hazard?

So ... successful networking then, Networking is not about networking meetings. Successful business networking is about how you manage your network (e.g. those people you know). There are several steps needed to get good results from them, two of which are:

  • Visibility

  • Initiative

So let's talk about visibility first. If your network doesn't see you and what you actually do (not what you claim to do) they are not going to remember to refer you. It would literally be like hiding your light under a bushel.

And as for initiative, well, I was sat talking to a good friend the other night; one of those heartfelt 'man to man' conversations (yes, we were in the pub). He was telling me about the deteriorating relationship with his wife. One particular conversation between them struck me:

"I love you" she said, "I love you too" he replied. "You're only saying that because I just said it, you never show any initiative any more" and the conversation ended there as she stormed off in a huff.

Regardless of whether you think that's fair or not, consider it with regards your networking. Networking is about developing relationships with others, for a specific purpose. Are you leaving your relationships to the other party's initiative and keeping your light under a bushel? Or are you ensuring you keep in contact with the important people in your network?

How many times have you rung somebody to hear "Hello Jon, thanks for ringing. It's ages since we spoke, I was just thinking about calling you." It maybe true, but how does it make you feel? To get your networking working, take the initiative, be visible and stop hiding your light under a bushel!

Until next time ...


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After 25 successful years in blue chip companies, Jon left corporate life to focus on the needs of the small business community. Since 2006 he has trained and coached nearly a thousand professionals and business owners, from a wide range of firms.

Jon helps the professionals with 5 to 50 staff improve their performance and grow their firm sustainably and profitably whilst having fun.


+44 (0) 1234 480123


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