This one was marvellous for reflecting upon how far I have come. A few years ago I went to a similar networking breakfast, and I tied myself in knots about it. I planned it weeks ahead of going. I crafted my objectives to achieve from it. I created a host of marketing materials to capitalise upon the opportunity. I drafted and redrafted a 40 second spiel, introducing myself. I rehearsed it to death. I timed myself saying it. I had it word perfect. Then I perfected saying it with a couple of ums and pauses, so that it would sound more natural. I got through the event (I even picked up a client), but it took me so long to recover from the whole ordeal that my marketing plan went woefully out of date.
This time, I looked online yesterday for a networking opportunity, found one, booked it, and turned up this morning. I thought up a spiel in the car on the way there, failed to write it down, and so made it up on the spot when my turn came. The whole thing was natural, easy, fun. I have arranged to meet someone for coffee, picked up a fistful of business cards, and enjoyed having half a dozen grey-headed entrepreneurs assure me there is a winning business to be found in my blogging and adventuring endeavours. I was composed, confident, colourful, interesting… a bit like a Ginger Legend in fact!
I had to eat a lardy cooked breakfast that I didn’t want in the least, but otherwise there was no downside. The whole affair was compered by a helpful chap who explained the format and kept us to time. Everyone did a 40 second intro, then there was a pause to refresh our coffees, and we all arranged our 3 one-to-one meetings with anyone who we liked the sound of from the introductions. Then another chap did a 10 minute talk (about accessing government money for one’s business), then we all went into our pairs for the individual meetings. Each pair has 10 minutes to talk before swapping round. The whole thing is friendly, social, supportive, and completely unintimidating. I would recommend it to anyone who needs to network and hates the idea of it. It is structured enough that everyone is involved and no one gets to hide in a corner, but not so formal as to be fearsome. (www.4networking.biz)
I was almost persuaded to sign up for membership, until I did a quick reality check and remembered that I don’t yet have a business. Possibly there are a few steps to take first, before I launch my promotional activity. But I will be back!