Fear of networking

In all of the advice for small businesses (of which there is scads around at the moment – look here, and here and here…) there is generally a rec0mmendation somewhere that the key means of generating new business leads is networking.  In my head networking just means meeting people and making connections; hopefully not leaving them thinking that you’re an idiot, and if possible having a mutually beneficial conversation which leaves both of you thinking you might like to work together in future.  It happens spontaneously in meetings, on train journeys, in the pub, online.  And there’s an element of matchmaking in it – I really love introducing people to each other if I think they could help each other out.

How did this entirely natural and civilised idea turn into Business Networking Events?  It’s just speed dating for office workers – ie even less fun than normal speed dating looks and done in business suits.  I have been to one of these events.  It was one of the most buttock-clenchingly embarrassing evenings I’ve ever spent and I couldn’t wait to get away.  I’m not sure they even work – has anyone ever walked away from a networking event with a firm lead on some work (or is it just my social ineptitude which makes me unable to do it? ) But I guess needs must, and as the outlook for small businesses gets bleaker I shall shine my shoes, brush my hair, arm myself with a sheaf of business cards and hit the networking trail.  So, any advice on how to make it a) more productive and b) less painful?


4 responses to “Fear of networking

  1. Try the online social networking world…develop relationships in a less aggressive, less stressful manner

  2. Hi, I attended my first Interim Management Dining Club last night. I’ve written about it: http://deborahprblog.wordpress.com/
    Like you, I dont enjoy walking into a room of strangers – particularly to ‘sell’ myself, as it were! This was actually OK – quite friendly. No leads, but one provider did e-mail me to encourage me to register and I met a lady who I have e-mailed in the past, so at least we know each other now.

  3. forthrightgrace

    I find “networking events” more comfortable/useful when we actually have something substantial in common, ie

    Public Servant’s Professional Network = good (ie we all work in government and have a shared understanding of how things work, yet are sufficiently different to be useful to each other)
    Women’s Network = poor (ie we all have vaginas – I need a bit more information than that since I already have a vagina)

    Have you considered starting your own event? Pick a relevant topic, maybe have a roundtable of discussion and then let people at the cheap vino. In your case you might have a topic like “how to get in the media (in a good way) for no money”.

  4. Excellent (but slightly scary) suggestion. Although it has reminded me that the Public Service network is one I really should get myself involved with. Couldn’t agree more about the total irrelevance of groups which exist just because their members share a gender .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s