I’m working with the wonderful Mums In Business Association to set up networking meetings for women who own or are thinking about starting their own business in Worcestershire, UK. These events are something which I’ve been planning for a while but with a house move and the Summer between me and the big dream, it was perfect timing to launch them with a much larger networking business.
"Networking is not about just connecting people. It's about connecting people with people, people with ideas, and people with opportunities." ― Michele Jennae
These events are a great way to meet other women in your area who are in the same position as you in terms of family life, working and doing their own thing. Many women have given up careers after having children and their business is how they afford to pay the bills. Others have followed their passions and wanted to work for themselves. Whichever route you take to being self-employed, business owner or entrepreneur doesn’t really matter because there are hundreds of other women out there doing the same thing and wanted to support you.
There is something different about networking with other women to the point that ‘networking’ seems the wrong word for it. Supporting would be a better choice.
“Motivation comes from working on things we care about. It also comes from working with people we care about.” ― Sheryl Sandberg
Networking suggests suits and business breakfasts, being your shiny best, passing around business cards and making small talk. Not that there is anything wrong with any of these things but it can be off-putting to the woman selling Avon to her friends and neighbours or to the Mum making jewellry while her children nap.
Going to meet a supportive group of women in an informal setting to share what they do is something different entirely. And although the pre-meet nerves will probably still exist, there are some things you can do to make that initial event run smoother.
Get to know the people going. Add them on your social media platforms, connect with them and ask them questions. Then when you meet them on the day, you already have something to talk to them about. We have a lovely local networking group in Worcester here.
Ask questions. If in doubt, think of some questions to ask the other attendees beforehand. Things like how they got into what they do, how long have they been doing it
Listen to the answers. We get it, you’re nervous and it’s sometimes hard to concentrate when your brain is in panic-mode telling you that you shouldn’t be there, you are out of your depth. Breathe and listen. Ask them something about what they have just said.
Swap business cards. Write a fact about the person on your card so you remember who gave you which card. Then connect with them afterwards. The networking doesn’t have to end when the event ends.
Take some tissues. Check you teeth, blow your nose, don’t have anything strange smelling for breakfast.
And remember, everyone else in that room will be feeling just as nervous as you are.
For more information on my events, check out the events page here.