I have taken several huge steps in the development of my small freelance business. One of these was to get outside my home office, away from the computer, and to network with real people in real time, as opposed to relying solely on social networks. So far I have had some fantastic experiences, and I eagerly await my next attendance at a networking event.
It has taken a lot of courage on my part to even consider attending these events. Not because I was afraid of meeting new people. The fear came from my lack of confidence in my own business idea. Would people really want my services as a copy writer and editor? Could I follow through with my promises? Can I make it work? The answer to all these is yes, of course, but I had to convince myself. Silly, eh!
Anyway, once I ‘sucked it up’ to quote an American phrase, I really embraced the idea and practise of business networking. My first tentative attempts came in 2012 when I was introduced to women in business events taking place in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. This was my home city and a place that was familiar, so it was good to start there I thought. It is also fairly local to where I live now, and therefore an excellent base to build my contacts and clients.
During the last month or so I have attended two more events. The first was very local. It was called Building Business in Middlewich and is something I am very keen to promote and be involved with. I want to work with local businesses, become a solid and active member of my local community, and give something back. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting people at this event and I look forward to the next one taking place in April.
The second, and more recent, event I attended was just last week, at the Moat House Hotel in Stoke-on-Trent. Again it was a familiar venue, although my last visits there were for a family wedding and a staff party! This time it was a business speed networking event, hosted by Lexus of Stoke. I thought it was a great idea. Lexus wanted to showcase their new cars and explain why they are of benefit to people from these local companies. We, the attendees, wanted to meet new people and make new contacts. It was a win-win situation.
One thing I learned from these business networking events was the process of the networking. The aim is not to go in and directly acquire customers or clients. The aim is to go in, meet people, share your skills and experience, and nurture the relationships that are formed as a result. Since attending these events I have kept in contact with a few specific people, and we will in turn help each other in our respective business endeavours.
I have found people that can act as informal mentors in business networking, both physically and across social networks. That to me is incredibly valuable, because I have a lot to learn. I want to extend my thanks now to Chalky White of the Chalis Partnership, for his help and advice in particular. Here’s to our continued business success!
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