For years networking has been part of my life especially as a business owner. I would even go as far as saying that in a smaller geographical area networking is probably the best way of getting known and getting your message out there, in my view it rates miles higher than advertising in terms of results. I used to say in Cork that if nobody knew you or hadn’t heard of you because of someone mentioning you, then you hadn’t been out networking enough as a business owner. Cork is the 2nd city in Ireland, but by international standards considered relatively small.
Then when you join an organisation as an internal consultant, networking becomes a lot more social and I have to say a lot of employees don’t do it at all outside of their own work environment or even within. When you go to office parties or kick-offs, what generally happens is that the same people sit and talk together. Only when enough drink has flowed will people venture outside of their comfort zone.
Having lived in this relatively protective bubble for 2 years, and even at that I still networked with people from expat meetups and 85broads in Stockholm, so I guess I never really stopped networking only the reason why become fully social as opposed to business related.
Now rejoining the London networking scene, I noticed a big difference from my previous experiences and actually the first time found it a little intimidating and in your face and also felt I had become a bit rusty and didn’t quite have a clear message. A few meetings later now I am back on track and after testing messages, I believe I finally have one that works somewhat. But what struck me at my first meeting which was a large business networking group, where people pretty much asked you what you did and if you were useful to them they made conversation they hung around and if not you were rejected as if you were an old tape. Much to my shock really, because to me it always was a first introduction to a potential business relationship.
Then this week I attended a meet up called “interesting talks” and they had indeed an interesting speaker Todd Landman, who is a professor in political science as well as a magician and his topic was around rational intuition and it’s uses on an international scale. First of all I was totally fascinated by the topic and he raised some really interesting questions to ponder on and secondly it provided everyone in the room with a common topic, which then lead to great conversations. I enjoyed this experience a lot more than the business to business event.
I wonder though when people go into ‘networking mode’ maybe they purposefully put on their automatic pilot bot-suit or robot impression for want of a better word, which allows them to reject and be rejected without hurt. It puzzles me though, because I wouldn’t do business unless someone had recommended the person to me or I knew them. The premise of ‘know, like , trust and they have something I want to buy’ kind of idea, but in the London networking scene, this seems to be a bit different or maybe I have only been to meetings that didn’t allow for this.
In any case I will be for the time being go to those with a common interesting theme to it, for example tonight it is email marketing. You never know there may be great nuggets of information and also great conversations.