I have been busy putting some networking dates in my diary over the last few days and, I must be honest, I'm a bit nervous about it all.
This may come as a surprise to those who know me (I'm never short of a conversation-opener or topic to discuss - my sons now refuse to come out pretty much anywhere with me as I can, and do, chat to anyone) but I'm not a huge fan of the traditional networking event. It feels contrived and cliquey; and some seem almost 'anti-new people'. I've never forgotten the time I went to an event and was made to stand up in front of 100 people and speak for 5 minutes. Even for someone as confident as me, it was a shocker.
However, despite my initial experiences (and they did improve as I persevered), networking is vital and a big positive for your business development. It gets you in front of new people in your community and gives you a chance to talk about what you do to a wide range of other business owners who can become extremely useful in all aspects of your business - from mentors, suppliers and even clients or friends. So, all in all, it's a Good Thing.
My suggestion for those who are a bit nervous is to find someone to go with. If you know someone who already networks, why not tag along. Or if you've never attended before, find another business friend to go with you. There are also lots of online networks, where you don't need to leave the privacy of your desk to attend (perfect for those who are new to the process) - and I'll be talking about those in a later post.
Once you get into the swing of it, you'll love the opportunity to chat through your challenges and successes with others and events can be a rich source of learning.
So your task for today? Find a networking event, and get yourself booked in. You won't regret it!