Well tonight was the night of my first "proper" business networking event.
I love to chatter to people about running, York and cake! If they love or even just like running, then I can natter away forever!
Networking is a whole other ball game. It's more formal, often awkward and it's tough walking into a crowd of complete strangers for the sole purpose of selling them your business idea!
Tonight we went to 1331 which is the venue where my husband and I renewed our wedding vows. It's a quirky little venue in the centre of York (the food is fab, their hot chocolate is one of the best in York but they also do a cracking cocktail)!
I was looking forward to going to 1331 and listening to the talks from various entrepreneurs but I was not looking forward to the "networking" thing! I was driving so there was no chance of a drink for Dutch courage!
These are the things I learnt from my first proper networking experience: -
- Allow yourself plenty of time to get ready, otherwise you do stupid things in a panic when you're rushing, such as losing the ability to put a top back on a coat hanger, putting on your shoes without help or being unable to open your car door to place the parking ticket in the window. This is particularly hard when you realise you are trying to open someone else's car by mistake! Whoops!
- Wear comfortable clothes. Don't wear trousers that are slightly too small, just because they look "smart" and you want to make a good impression. When your body goes numb from the waist down, it's hard to concentrate on anything anyone is actually saying to you!
- Don't hold your glass with your right hand, otherwise when you shake hands with other budding entrepreneurs, they are greeted with a cold, wet handshake. Classy!
- Don't drink fizzy drinks. This makes you want to burp during the quietest part of the evening and this is not a recommended way to try and make new business contacts!
- Make sure you have time for food before you go to avoid embarrassing rumblings during the talks!
- I appear to talk complete waffle when I'm nervous/uncomfortable/completely out of my depth!
- Take a nice wallet within which to place all the business cards given (shoving the card in your pocket is not polite/acceptable etiquette at such a do)!
- Get your own business cards printed! Trying to get flyers out of your handbag when nervous is extremely difficult - they stick together and then rip (it does not create an image of a professional business woman)!
Despite my initial nerves, the overall experience was a good one. It was very informative, I picked up a lot of tips and I met some lovely people. It was well run (thank you to the host, Sam Agnew of Everyday People) and the guest speakers were engaging and funny (with thanks to Melissa Talago, Russ Huntington and the "Human Freelancer"). I've since "Googled" the speakers and the Human Freelancer must be doing ok as his book is selling for £45.00 on Amazon!
An added bonus was the walk back to the car through through the dark streets of York, beautifully lit with Christmas lights!