Last thursday I went to my first networking meeting. I thought I would share my thoughts and feelings about how I got on and what I came away with.

The networking event I attended was BusinessMeet 2010. Michelle from CBJ Digital Ltd. asked if anyone in the office wanted to go with her, being a code monkey I was a bit hesitant. I thought to hell with it though and signed myself up, I like a challenge after all!

What I was expecting

I’ve never done networking before. I just assumed that it was going to be full of people barking at me and trying to sell me things that I didn’t have a use for, nor cared about, whilst I’d try to do the same back. That’s what has always really put me off in the past. I think its a bit of a stigmatism that is associated with networking for people that haven’t tried it before.

Today’s the day

I got there and everything seemed more laid back then I was expecting, which is good as I went in a t-shirt and jeans! I grabbed a cup of coffee as we went in and started by watching Michelle at work, it is her forte after all. Then a speaker came on to introduce the event to everyone. Once the speaker finished I took the plunge and talked to the person next to me. Rather than trying to sell them something they probably don’t need (a website), I figured I would just tell them who I was and what I do to break the ice. To my astonishment this worked quite well, before I knew it we were chatting away and a couple more people joined in our conversation. Then I realised I was chatting with a group of people and just getting to know them!

Before I knew it Brad Burton, the head honcho at 4Networking was taking the stage. The evening had gone so fast, but I was enjoying every minute of it. Brad’s talk was very motivational and he gave some tips for the best way to go about networking and what makes 4Networking different.

After Brad’s talk, the evening continued how it had started, chatting with some more new people, learning who they are, what they do, what makes them tick. I couldn’t believe it but I was actually quite enjoying meeting all these people, all with the purpose of being there to meet others. Then all of a sudden, it was time to head home.

The networking penny dropped

What I have learnt tonight, is that networking really isn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. What I expected, and what actually happened are two entirely different things, which I’m very grateful of. My eyes have been opened to the benefits of networking and I hope to be able to do some more in the future. If your in two minds about whether to do it or not, just do it and see what happens. You don’t lose anything by doing it and you don’t know if you don’t try!

From now on I’ll be thinking of networking more as socialising and getting to know people, after all, who is going to pass you work if they don’t know and trust you? The point of networking isn’t to sell directly to the people you are meeting. It’s to get to know them and earn their trust so that if anyone asks them for something, you become a personal recommendation from that person, and no amount of marketing is worth more than someones recommendation.

I hope to find some more web designers and developers that I can chat to and learn from. Are there any geek nights in and around Cheshire? If so let me know!

Published on Thursday, 2 December 2010