The first networking meeting can be a terrifying occasion, but the rewards are well worth the effort, as one of our new franchisees, Elicia, has discovered.
‘It’s launch day and I’m off to my first ever networking meeting. The spaghetti in my stomach couldn’t be any more knotted and I have no idea what to expect. However “success comes to the bold” (so I’ve been told!) so off I go…
‘Having researched the various opportunities open to me in my area, I’ve decided to try the Biz’ee Women Network group in Brentwood. I liked the tone of their website, particularly the part that says the group is for women who are “in business or thinking of starting up” after all, this is my launch day, so I fit nicely in that category.
I am pleasantly surprised as I arrive at the venue. I am immediately given a warm welcome, a name badge and a cup of tea. The host immediately introduced me to two ladies, making sure I didn’t feel isolated – it worked a treat; we were soon chatting about our businesses, which as a new start-up myself I found really interesting.
From the relaxed atmosphere to the concise agenda, I found that the spaghetti in my stomach was not so knotted anymore. When it came to my turn to deliver my mini-intro (mini being 2 minutes, which can seem a long time for a first timer!) I felt like I was talking to women who wanted me to succeed – they all listened and radiated encouragement from the moment I stood up. I had taken the time to prepare my pitch before coming, so knew exactly what I wanted to say. The fact that I ditched my speech and winged it speaks volumes for how relaxed I felt! By the time it came to the one-to-ones, I was fully relaxed and chatted with several members of the group with ease, asking about their business and the best and worst aspects of working for oneself.
It’s fair to say that my first networking experience was rather a success. So much so that I immediately signed up to return and on my return to my office signed up to attend two additional groups’ taster sessions. These too went well; I didn’t feel nearly so apprehensive arriving at either one and the presentations and networking have proven to be very useful for my fledgling business.
So, for those of you who have been putting networking off, I say go for it! Each one is slightly different in format, but each one has proven to be equally welcoming, populated by like-minded and interesting people who enjoy meeting others of a similar outlook, who could be useful to know! If you don’t like the feel of one, don’t go back, but definitely make the effort in the first place, after all – “success comes to the bold”.