How I deal with networking...

30 Jan 2020

For me networking events were always something I would put on the back burner, and try to resist doing, sometimes neglecting great opportunities to get out there and talk about who I am, and what I do.

I remember going to a networking event in the first week of being self employed and standing awkwardly in the corner having no idea where to start.

I was one of the youngest people there and I simply didn't know how to interact with older, successful business people. My good friend Matt Greenwood would know everyone in the room, networking and chatting to them all - whilst I stood by his side like an awkward limpet.

For the past two years of being in business with Ben, we could probably count on one hand how many networking events we've been to, always resorting back to the same excuse of them "not being for us" and the approach never felt right.

So we thought we would shake things up.

We had a meeting with the great Andrew Wells and we discussed how networking wasn't easy for young entrepreneurs and how Swindon was missing a beat on getting great young people together in one room; to talk, exchange ideas and potentially work with each other.

3 months down the line, we have helped organise, marketed and hosted 3 successful events, selling out each event with a mixture of new faces attending every one. Forming a room of people from Junior Solicitors to Architects and Photographers.

Bringing together like-minded entrepreneurs and ambitious young people to connect, form meaningful relationships and create a support network for growth.

We've had James Threlfall the first professional skateboarder to receive an MBE, hosted an event at the Hop Kettle Brewery with speakers Tim and Sophie from the Grazing Company talking. And our latest event with Kerry O'Dowd a confidence and speaking coach teaching the room how to come across better in meetings, and hold your own in public speaking situations. First event video below

Coming from a personal point of view, I have developed a new level of confidence in networking situations, maybe its down to being comfortable in the room, or just through experience.

Try something new, and rub shoulders with people just like yourself.

Here's a few tips which might help when networking in the future. (That being said, I don't have a huge amount of experience so you don't need to listen...)

1) Know its not just you in this awkward networking situation. Try and find another individual in your position and get talking - don't forget to listen too.

2) Go into the event wanting to make 3 good relationships. Forget the swapping of business cards for now, build a relationship and get to know that person. I personally value someones story and their ability to listen, than the instant push of a business card.

3) Smile, make eye contact, listen and repeat the name of that person in conversation. Heres a little quote from a great book below.

A name is the core part of our identity, and so hearing it validates our existence, which makes us much more inclined to feel positively about the person who validated us

Dale Carnegie, the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People

4) Avoid the canapés if they involve garlic or onion. Im a paranoid person when thinking that my dental hygiene isn't tip top. I try to avoid canapés at all costs, smelling and feeling good helps when talking to new people.

Finally.

5) It's always better to look back and know you gave it a go, than look back knowing you didn't even bother.

So now I ask you.

Have you got any funny stories from networking events, or tips for people just starting out?

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