It’s been a little over a year since I started writing about my experiences with networking, so it’s time to look back and see what, if anything(!), I learned.
Since my last update I have continued going to Podium meetings regularly and I’ve also been to several other events in order to meet a wide variety of people. I was invited along to a BNI meeting so I’ve finally been to a quite formal event (scary but still enjoyable!).
Comparing results, Podium has been my best source of clients and leads. Attending consistently has let me build relationships with other members – some of whom I’d happily call friends – and some really good projects have come my way because of it.
I really like the relaxed atmosphere there, but I do still want to go to more formal events too and try other groups and other people. Trying out new groups is still daunting, but I make myself do it because, however nervous I am beforehand, I have a good time while I’m there. So I’m not quitting yet!
1. Everyone gets nervous, so make yourself talk to other people
If your nerves are threatening to get the better of you, make an effort to go and speak to someone. It’s likely that most people in the room are a bit nervous, so just go start a conversation with someone (especially if they’re standing about on their own). Taking the initiative like this has really helped me get over the fear of ‘what if no one speaks to me?’ You won’t achieve anything if you cower alone in the corner!
2. An elevator pitch isn’t essential as long as you can explain to people what you do
I’ve never actually used my elevator pitch while networking – though it has come in handy a few times on my social media profiles! At the informal events I like to go to, using a pitch seems a bit too much like a hard sell, but I do wish I’d used it at my BNI visit. My nerves were really bad that day so I wasn’t at my most articulate. I wonder if using the pitch would have been better than what I said that day…
3. Try a variety of groups and events
In a place like Aberdeen, who you know is definitely important when you’re looking for work, so get out and meet as many people as possible. You never know where you might meet a potential client, collaborator or even a new supplier.
4. Don’t expect instant results
You probably won’t get any new clients after just going to one networking event, but going regularly and building relationships with people means that when they need what you offer, they’ll think of you.
Networking is probably the best thing I’ve ever done for my business and while I’m not a beginner any more, I’m by no means an expert. So while there won’t be more regular updates in this series, I might write an occasional update if I’ve experienced anything noteworthy or learned more important lessons.
If you still haven’t started networking, please get out there and start talking to people; you won’t regret it! Hopefully I’ll see you around Aberdeen’s various networking events – don’t forget to say hi!