Networking: The word alone strikes terror in the hearts of many of us.
Some love nothing more than a room full of new people to meet.
And others fall somewhere in between – perhaps enjoying meeting a few new people now and again, and prefer a smaller gathering rather than a huge, crowded noisy room.
It’s good to pay attention to what works best for you, as you will be more productive and effective if you are in a situation that you enjoy rather than one that creates anxiety. And as independent workers (freelancers, micro business owners, sole traders, etc.), networking is really important to our business growth – see another blog post about this: http://www.plymouthcowork.org/networks-are-important-do-you-know-why/. Since we can’t always control the times when it will be necessary to network, like at a conference, I always try to create my own comfort area within any situation.
If I need to go to a networking event in a situation that is stressful (for me that is a large crowded room full of people who seemingly know each other), I try to create my own small intimate setting so that I don’t feel the pressure and noise of the larger room. So, for example, I’ll start by finding someone on the periphery who might look uncomfortable, or a couple of people who are glancing around to see if there is someone else they should be talking to, and go up to those people and introduce myself, and ask them a few questions. Usually we can go from there, and hopefully dig deeper.
I count success as having two or three longer conversations at most events rather than trying to meet as many people as I can. That way I have met a few people with whom I can confidently follow up, and I haven’t exhausted myself with numerous shallow conversations. For me, after a couple of good long conversations I am usually more energised rather than drained. And then if it is possible, I give myself permission to leave, feeling reasonably good and not so exhausted that I won’t be willing to go to another event. Or if I can’t leave, I take a small break to get some fresh air, walk around, or sit down for a quiet moment. After a bit of recharging, I can repeat the process.
Here at THINQTANQ we make it easy for people to meet each other. By providing communal workspace, opportunities to meet people come naturally by working alongside one another and getting the chance to converse whilst getting a cup of coffee, or talking about a new type of productivity app, or just asking for feedback on a project. We have a big picnic table where we gather for lunch sometimes as well. It is a very non-stressful way to get to know people who can help you with your business in all kinds of ways.
As well, once a month we hold a very low-key FREE networking event for all our members and any other people who want to come along. It is focused on one-to-one conversations and cake! We take a few minutes in the middle of the mid-morning event for everyone to introduce themselves and their business for just a minute each, and then we go back to chatting knowing what everyone does in case there is someone in particular you want to say hello to. And that is it!
If you’d like to join us at our monthly networking events, we’d love to meet you! We are very friendly and welcoming, and also like to have a bit of a laugh! The next one is Wednesday morning 27 August, 10am to 12 noon at THINQTANQ. Please let me know if you plan to come so we’ll make sure to have enough cake.