I attended my first network meeting
…in January 2009. My photography business was just 7 months old. I loved it. It was hosted by the Lichfield WiRE group, thank goodness they were my first! Happy to say, I have been attending local network meetings ever since.
Over the years I have ‘kissed a lot of frogs’ to find my ‘princes’ of the network offerings. Not everyone is suited to every style of network meeting or organisation. It’s worth attending as many as possible to which ones suit you best.
So in a world where we are drowning in social media networks, why should you even bother with going to a face-to-face network meeting?
Well dear reader, let me shower you with 7 awesome reasons why you should do it…
1. To make personal connections
With video, live streaming and vlogging you can now get a big element of your personality across to others digitally. But there is no substitution for making a real personal connection with other human beings! Body language, humour and general demeanour of someone is far easier to gauge when you are face-to-face with someone. People will remember you!
2. To thrive on great atmosphere.
There’s nothing like a room full of people buzzing with enthusiasm for their businesses and passions in life, to really give you a boost of excitement. Sometimes when you work in isolation maybe from home or in an office, ‘work’ can feel a little…flat. Whilst you are most likely to love what you do, being able to share your enthusiasm with others amplifies everything. Fabulous!
3. To establish and build relationships.
If you network on a regular basis you soon pick out those that you get to know, like and therefore trust. This is powerful stuff and certainly business leads are a bonus here. It’s far easier to recommend a business if you know, like and trust the person behind it. Getting to know people and what makes them tick can speak volumes about their work ethics and values…far more so than reading their leaflet or brochure. The same, goes for you! So, be yourself and establish authentic relationships.
4. To support and encourage others.
Over the years I’ve made many great friends through physical networking. It’s not all about getting business and giving business. It’s also about supporting fellow entrepreneurs, especially for those working for themselves. Being in business can get overwhelming and sometimes you just need someone to understand what you are going through or for you to understand someone else’s situation. Help each other out.
“Nothing liberates your greatness like the desire to help, the desire to serve.”
5. To support your local business community.
I’m a big fan of supporting local businesses…the good ones of course! They are the very fabric of the community and help shape the personality of the area. When you network, over the years you become a walking trade, craft and service directory for your friends, colleagues and family. I love the whole ‘oooo I bet Sara knows someone who can…’ thing. It’s fun and makes life a little more colourful, don’t you think?
“The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.”
6. To gain confidence in public speaking!
Most network meetings require you to stand up during the meeting and introduce yourself and say what it is you or your business does; often within 60 seconds. It’s a great skill to be able to do this. The more you practice, the better your get. If you’ve never done this before networking is a great place to start with some public speaking. I’ve done many a presentation during a meeting and it does wonders for your personal growth and confidence as well as raising awareness of who you are and what you do. Take the opportunity. You never know where it might lead you.
7. To meet diverse and talented people.
I have met some incredibly talented people during my time networking, locally and nationally. You can meet people from all types of businesses and service offerings. I have bought unique and bespoke items as well as chosen my accountant, insurance and car leasing company through networking! I also go to London from time to time to meet up with other women from various groups I am in that serve a global market – the same principles apply.
Image credit: Alison Chester-Lambert. Sutton Coldfield WiRE leader
Some further useful information:
There are national and local networking meetings everywhere. Google your area and see what take your fancy. I am a big fan of WiRE – Women in Rural Enterprise, here in the UK, as well as some other local networks. I’ve recently hosted my very own for Hiking Boots and Posh Pants.
Get active and get involved in your local area, I am sure you will love it!