Networking – My Thoughts

Networking – My Thoughts

May 07

Way back in early 2007 I was invited to my very first networking breakfast.  It was a daunting affair to say the least.  An early start surrounded by lots of strangers looking well dressed, confident and articulate.  Having to give my very first pitch to a ‘live’ audience was terrifying. I rambled on about using a Telephone Answering Service and tried in a clumsy way to highlight the advantages of using Answer it Telephone Answering service. The assembled business people were all very gracious I am sure I got a ‘well done’ and even a polite round of applause!  So despite my trepidation the experience was not as bad as I thought it might be.
Afterwards however as ‘Visitors’ to this breakfast meeting we were sheparded off to an anti room and having had a 15 – 20 minutes sales pitch for the organisation were confronted with application forms.  We were helpfully told we could pay by company cheque or credit card.
I struggled to understand what the fees I might pay would cover.  to which I didnt get an answer only the fact that the organisation is a business.

I didn’t join this organisation.  I did however secure one of my 1st clients through it.  This person asked me to substitute for them at a subsequent meeting.  I had my doubts.  Was I going to be subjected to another hard sell pitch.   As this was one of my first clients and wanting to create a good impression I agreed, having ‘checked the diary,’ to substitute.
At this breakfast I met a great lady who let me know about various other local networking events. As I attended these events I learnt about even more events  I was shocked to actually discover what was going on in the business world without me!
Certainly many of these events are ones I might not attend due to the nature of my business.
But the amount out there (just the ones on my doorstep) was overwhelming.
In fact I think if you werent fussy you could attend a breafast lunch and dinner most of the month and never be in the office.

So since 2007 I have been out and about Networking, getting to know people in the local business community.  Finding out how they can help me and indeed on more than one occassion how I can help them.  That is how I see it now.  When I first started networking I made all the classic mistakes I have since listened to speakers talk about and audiences guffaw about (While I silently blush.)

I have found networking to be very powerful.  I have met some great people along the way.  I have referred business to people I have met and been able to ease others into conversations and make  (I hope) helpful and useful introductions.  In turn I have had business referred to me, I have even met people who say ‘Oh I know you you’re the telephone lady’  Great!  That means I can spend time getting to know how they heard about me, what they do and if I can help them or if I know someone else who can.

I continue to network and discover new groups and new people.  BUT what I have been thinking about lately is this.
How many people have the same 1st experience of networking as I did? What happens then?  Do they go quietly back to their office and remain there isolated from the world of local business on their doorstep.  Might those be people I or my fellow networkers might want to do business with?  What if they had a different first step into networking?  We all know first impressions count so what would happen then?…..

Until next time


1 comment

  1. Emma, you’re so right! Only last week I was so keen to point out the differences between various networking organisations that I nearly upset someone who offers a very different experience to The Inspired Group.
    The main word here is ‘different’ not inferior or better!
    The organisation that gave you your first taste of networking is hugely successful all over the world and many people like it and get lots of business through it. Other people prefer a more relaxed approach but, as you point out, there is a huge variety of organisations and my advice to everyone is always to try as many as possible and see what suits you.
    I’d also like to point out that the best networking doesn’t just take place in networking meetings. The very best networkers are always ready to share their contacts and put people in touch with each other even when they don’t benefit directly from it.
    As someone once said “Networking is not about you!”

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