I’m not a natural networker…
By Suzy Rigg
I find the collective energy of so many entrepreneurial and business-types all in one room quite draining. Badly done, professional networking can be a ragtag of people all out for the same thing: meet people > sell things. Before networking aficionados defend the cause, I do confer that the genre has improved considerably.
What makes me click the ‘attend’ button:
- Better venues (innovation and creativity have crept in here). I have observed some excellent event planning going on, especially of the experiential type.
- Smarter integration of technology through innovation: more dynamic engagement, often using conferencing type gadgets can make the event experience both more exciting and feel more personal.
- Clear reasons to attend, apart from ‘meeting new people’ learning a new skill or nosing around an otherwise difficult to access venue can be good motivating factors.
I’m doing well, do I still need to Network?
- Work situations can change in an instant, meeting people face to face can vastly improve your chances of securing a new position or progressing a business idea.
- Social media networking has totally different rules of engagement and etiquette; highly important part of your communications mix, but the value of direct personal engagement in a social setting remains undiminshed.
- It’s a numbers game, there may be many people in the room, but meet the ‘right one ( or two ) and you can hit the jackpot. SMART TIP: Store names and numbers directly into your smart phone and text people your connected with the next day. It’s a lot like dating, it shows you mean business and I’m sure there’s some data somewhere to proove that you are more likely to stay in touch with that person.
- Networking sharpens your presentation and marketing skills and can be used to trial ideas, pitches as well as gather market intelligence.
- If you need to make new contacts, give yourself time to have fun with people you actually ‘click’ with. They may become customers, friends or associates, the richness of meeting new people and sharing ideas is exhilarating and fun!
A few networking organisations I’ve tried and enjoyed:
Cappuccino Connections, LadiesWhoLatte, Networking in Surrey, Best of Richmond, Richmond Chamber, Hounslow Chamber.