Not that long ago if you had asked me to go and ‘network’ with twenty-five business women, my response would have been “I would rather stick pins in my eyes!”. I was used to working in a male-dominated environment where there was a distinct lack of support between working women. It was just easier to be ‘one of the lads’.
Breaking free from the 9-5
I made the bold move of starting my own business a little under three years ago. Many people advised on the importance of networking, but I couldn’t get past the thought of walking into a huge room and nobody talking to me.
On my first day as a Sole Trader, I took the bull by the horns and attended my first women’s networking meeting. Guess what? I survived! I would even go as far as saying I relaxed and enjoyed myself.
I discovered that when women are doing something they believe in and are passionate about, they are not only interesting to talk to; they genuinely want to help and support you in being a success.
Some of the most inspiring networkers make you feel like you are the only person in the room. They seamlessly introduce you to a number of people with effortless style, as though they had known you for years.
I got hooked, and became an avid networker. You can find me in a networking event at least once a week. I am now even running my own group in Richmond for Ladies@11.
Running a group
I always remind myself, when chairing a group, that it is about the group, not about me. I bring a coaching mindset and a genuine desire to help and support women in business. My role as chair is to organize and facilitate meetings, attract an interesting range of successful business women and to ensure the group is a success. Even after running the Richmond group for over a year, I still find myself in awe of the women who contribute at our meetings. It’s fabulous to see those ladies who are growing in confidence.
I was told running a group would gain brand exposure for me and my business and help me to create a support network of wonderful women. And indeed, as a result of networking, I have generated business, been asked to speak at a number of events and evenings and created a support network of fascinating and inspiring women in business.
Author: Keely Buston. Keely is the owner of pa consult offering marketing advice and she runs New Perspectives – image consulting. She gained a lot of experience while running a networking group. 07979 863012