These are my key tips learnt from my networking tourism.
1. “May I join you?” It can be daunting entering a room full of strangers. Do you stand in the corner trying to catch someone’s eye? I find that walking up to any group and politely asking “may I join you?” works. Everyone is there for the same reason. I have also heard that looking for a group that is “open” i.e. not in a circle is a sign that they are looking for joiners.
2. Be specific. Many network groups give anything from 20 to 60 seconds to introduce yourself. So, mention the benefits and then ask directly for what you want. “I am looking for introductions to……” It helps if you can be as specific as possible. Marketing Directors of cleaning companies for example. It is even better if you can name your target companies. “I would like an introduction to AXX ltd”. A specific request helps the audience focus on your needs. There is no harm changing the request to something else in the future. “This week, I would like introductions to….”.
3. What do you do with those business cards you collect? Put them in a drawer? File them away? I invite the person to join me on LinkedIn within a couple of days of meeting them. After all, they gave you their card. So the third tip is to follow-up.
This Week: With only one month to go to the launch of the Highflyingdivas Forum, I have spent the week printing off leaflets and inviting more inspiring professional women. So, date for the diary – Monday 27th September at Severalls Business Park, Colchester. Register at
. Whether you work in an organsiation or have your own business, be part of this mentoring forum and receive fresh ideas and new recommendations to support you reaching your goals.
For various reasons I only attended one networking event this week, namely Colchester Connected held at The Rose & Crown in Colchester. A very large turnout again and a number of worthwhile charity events were announced. This network seems to attract a large and diverse group which is refreshing as some networks can become more like clubs with the same members every time. No membership fee, £15 to attend which includes a cooked breakfast if you are so inclined. www.colchesterconnected.co.uk,
Reading for the week: Ever felt like writing a book? So many people have this desire. Mindy Gibbins-Klein is known as The Book Midwife and she, with Bert Verdonck, has written “Your Book in 100 Days”. Practical, friendly and short, it provides guidance on bringing your dream of writing to fruition.
With the holiday season in full swing, I recently had the pleasure of a ferry crossing. I entertained myself by writing this small piece.
The 8 hour cross-channel ferry creates a mini-civilisation of diverse cultures, languages and backgrounds. Representatives from all ages and walks of life are thrown together, with no escape, on a floating moving island. It begins with the mad rush of passengers, all eager to stake their claims on window-seats, bar stools and, for some weary parents, outside the children’s play area. First to secure seats are the young bloods from the coach party. Noisy and exuberant, they challenge each other to down pints of lager from 9.00 a.m. Parties of male adolescents soon start out in hunting packs, patrolling the corridors, trying to outdo each other as they strut and swagger in front of any young female. They pass the tired young couples holding the fingertips of their toddlers, who will not be quiet unless they are wobbling round in a perpetual circuit of the ship’s gangways. Leather romper suits lay about like discarded snakeskins signalling the presence of bikers on board.
The first two hours are spent with books, papers and Nintendos, interspersed with tramps to the Restaurant to eat overpriced food which isn’t needed but at least interrupts the boredom. That, or a trip to the cinema to view films at the end of their showing cycle. Of course, not everyone has the money to spend on board. From 11.00 a.m old married couples can be seen opening their flasks of tea and unwrapping their sandwiches. This will follow their ritual review of the Restaurant to tut tut over prices and confirm their suspicions that they were right to bring their own sustenance. They are dressed in Sunday best and, following lunch, can be seen lurching from side to side like drunken sailors as they also totter along the gangways, stopping to peer in the shop window. Inside the shop are more groups of trapped passengers trying to kill time by feigning interest in the over-priced plastic rubbish on sale. Staff try to cover up their boredom via adopting patient, welcoming, smiles as they take the money from parents trying to appease their child’s increasing rebellion, with yet another plastic ship, car or doll.
But class is not entirely eradicated. There is always the Business Lounge. Passengers with access to this haven, march up, punching in the unique code with a superior look. They enter, extinguishing the din outside for peace within. Not all is calm however, as the ambience is soon ruined by the smells. Chips brought in by the American and home-made curry proudly presented by the young Indian wife to her new husband.
Disembarking is a similar trauma to onboarding. All gather like sheep, peering at the signs trying to remember which deck and coloured stairs they need. All except those who are ably assisting elderly relatives who, 5 minutes before docking, decide that perhaps they should go to the bathroom. Again, there is a race to cars, bikes and coaches, even though no-one is going anywhere until the vehicle in front moves. They will wait for some time. Because, of course, the elderly relative is a passenger in the car at the head of the line.
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