By November 19, 2013 Read More →

Do you dread networking?

How to enjoy networking more

Do you dread networking?Networking – does the very word strike fear into your heart? Lots of home workers tell me they feel they must go networking but dread it. Because so often they’ve had to endure sales pitches. And worst of all, the ‘meerkats’, who keep looking over your shoulder when you’re talking to scan the room for someone more interesting. Soul destroying.

Stuart Russell of findnetworkingevents.com has carried out a survey of networkers across the UK to find out why they go networking. 87% of respondents said they were looking for leads and referrals, which probably accounts for all those pitches. 52% said they used networking events to find other businesses to collaborate with and 44% said they provided a useful support network.

Nearly 60% said that they networked to learn new ideas and 25% said networking gave them confidence and motivation. And 39% of respondents said the social side of networking was important to them.

But what to do if you’re one of the many who’d like some of that collaboration, support and socialising but still find networking hard? In an interview with Marie Forleo, Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking, says she doesn’t even use the word ‘networking’ to herself anymore. She prefers to think of it in terms of meeting kindred spirits, and that usually there’s at least one person she feels a connection to.

Another point she made that I identify with strongly is the endless debating about whether to go to an event or not. You know when in a fit of good intentions you book, and then spend the time right up to the event in an internal argument? It’s exhausting. Watch the video to find out how to get over that, and for some other valuable tips.

I’ve done plenty of networking in my time, ranging from BNI to friendly get-togethers in a local restaurant, and I decided not to do any more until I found an event that’s quite different, and a pleasure, even for a introvert like me.

Corrina Gordon-Barnes teaches marketing to solo (often home) business owners and runs a bimonthly meet-up in a central London restaurant that attracts attendees from all over the UK. Tickets for the next event in January went on sale last week and sold out in 9 hours!

Why? I think one reason is that, unlike so many events, where you are thrown into a roomful of strangers and left to your own devices, it has a clear structure. People arrive from midday for lunch and a chat, then there’s a speaker for half an hour, followed by speed networking, when you’ll get to meet 6 or 7 people. So no danger of getting stuck with someone.

But the main attraction for all of us is that we are on the same wavelength, so there’s a lot we don’t have to explain. Attendees tend to be coaches, therapists and practitioners of various kinds, all wanting to help others with their own particular expertise.

At ‘normal’ networking events I’ve spent hours telling people what I do, only to get a completely blank look or have them list all the reasons they couldn’t bear to work from home. Not good for the confidence and motivation mentioned in the survey.

I don’t think I’ve come across anyone at the You Inspire Me event who doesn’t work from home and immediately understand what I’m talking about. Which is why I’m prepared to travel up to London for a lunchtime event when I wouldn’t bother to drive down the road for anything else.

PS I always flinch when I hear Jelly described as networking. As far as I’m concerned, Jelly is coworking, pure and simple, a chance to work alongside other freelancers and small business owners, have a chat, and swap experience. That’s it, anything else is a bonus.

Posted in: Isolation

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