Telling the truth about SME life today

Networking events: worthwhile or waste of time

My feet didn’t touch the ground last week – or rather they touched the ground a bit too much, as they’re now feeling sore from standing around socialising!

For a variety of reasons, like a new school year, the autumn brings this enormous influx of invitations to networking events, awards dos and various other business functions – both local and national. Every year, I mean to go to as many as possible and inevitably end up having to cherry pick, wishing I could do more.

Networking, in general, has been such a huge growth area in the past ten years. When I first started in business, it was normal to feel isolated. Now you can hardly move from all the “peers” that surround you. Networking events have the potential to obliterate our normal work from the diary altogether!

Every event I go to is now stuffed with people to help me and my business – not just advisors for every possible type of business but personal coaches, trainers, wardrobe planners, holistic advisers. People seem to have become incapable of functioning for themselves without a specialist guru at every turn.

It is therefore increasingly necessary to have very clear guidelines mentally laid out of exactly what we each seek from networking. For some, networking is the genuine lifeblood of their industry, delivering a sales strategy for contacts that is second to none. On the flip side, we have probably all met and subsequently used a supplier of some description at a business event.

There is also the pooling or exchanging of ideas. Business owners and entrepreneurs need to have their brains and backsides kicked into gear with fresh thoughts and useful insights. These may be acquired via formal training or lectures but more often through simply chatting to other like-minded individuals.
Lastly, in my view, what most – though luckily not all – network organisers miss is that business owners need light relief from the pressures and isolation of their everyday lives. Fun has to be an essential ingredient in a successful event. Sadly, that’s lacking in most. Standing around with a group of dull individuals shaking depressed heads over stuffy suits is hardly going to send one home inspired. Having a good laugh with an eclectic group of people is what all of Britain needs most right now: a ton of positive energy.

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