November 9, 2016
I went to a few networking events at the end of last year so I wanted to share some thoughts on the process.
As somebody who is self-employed, a large part of acquiring new clients and creating new business relationships is by getting out to networking events and physically meeting new people.
When I first started doing this I felt it felt odd. I don't come from a business background so learning the language of business took time. With that in mind, I decided to pick a few networking events and see what results I got. I started by attending events which focused on informal conversations (which is kind of my speciality) as opposed to elevator pitches is filled with the business vernacular.
One of the most useful networking events I visited recently was one hosted by the Colchester Business Enterprise Agency (Colbea). This is a really great organisation serving the people of Essex. A lot of the advice and help that they give you is free so there are no excuses for not contacting them.
When I started I thought networking wasn't for me. That the work I did wouldn't translate to a room full of people touting for clients. However, after I ignored that pessimistic voice in my head I found the value in just being honest with people that were genuinely there to hear about what other people were doing. I nearly let my outdated views of 'networking events' get in the way of some of the most rewarding and productive conversations I have had about what I do from day to day. Just sincere about your business, try and explain what it is you do clearly and try to follow up with everyone you speak to because you don't know where it could lead.
Also, be sure to bring plenty of business cards!