Networking. Love it or hate it, it’s a key part of business life. The spring season is well under way and MIPIM is on the horizon: a good part of every Sunday is dedicated to shuffling the business cards gathered during the week and following up.
Confession: I like it. I enjoy meeting new people and feel energised by a good conversation. A lot of my ideas come from the walk back to the station when I’m mulling over something somebody said. And you never know where a connection will take you: I currently have three projects underway with interesting people I met at networking events in 2016.
I know that I’m unusual in this. Many people break out into a cold sweat at the thought of walking alone into a networking event. It can feel disingenuous: going out specifically to find people who might be useful to you. Shudder.
When anyone says “networking” to me, I hear my Dad’s voice:
“It’s all about the people you know, Lucy – you can do anything if you know the right people.”
I hate to admit it, but he’s right. With a caveat. The “right” people aren’t just useful to you – they add something positive to your life, whether that’s a common interest, advice and support, or a good laugh over a drink.
Networking is on my mind at the moment as I prepare to give a “how to network” session to an audience of +100 members of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce on 2 March. An audience that includes lots of people I’ve met at networking events recently!