updated: 2019-05-11 19:41:51
Networking the ultimate adrenalin rush
Being honest - I am an introvert. I like being virtual because I don’t have to meet people very much and a lot of communication is done via email and Skype. Nonetheless, the key to any business succeeding is building a reputation and meeting people who may at some point in the future want something from you, hopefully they will be willing to pay for what they want, but sometimes a free favour reaps unexpected dividends at a later date.
I have put myself through all kinds of torture in the name of building my business, walking into roomfuls of total strangers and finding someone who looks ‘nice’ to say hello to. Speaking at training events, I even attended an Athena meeting once, where I had to give a two minute introduction, I thought I would be sick!
I have tried ladies only networking groups and mixed networking groups, I understand the reasons behind the ladies only meetings, but actually I don’t mind. I find on the whole men are more receptive to the idea of a freelance secretary. A lot of women won’t admit that it takes them three hours to two finger type a letter – too much gender stereotyping still exists in the workplace, besides women are still conditioned to think that we can and should be able to do everything – yes I attempt to do my own accounts and no the month end reconciliation never reconciles!
So, I plan my outfit, I prepare my introductions, I make sure I have got plenty of business cards and I always feel sick beforehand. I check that I know where I am going, SatNav and Google Maps, because I know I will be nervous enough without getting lost too.
It has taken me a few years to develop the right attitude to networking, I used to go along looking for people that would want me to work for them, and whilst ultimately the point of networking is to get more business, this isn’t done by making contact with potential clients straight away.
First you meet people, then you get to know them, and meet them again and again. You exchange business cards, and then emails, possibly connect on LinkedIn or follow them on Twitter, hopefully they will follow you too. You might find ways in which you can help them, or offer them advice and they similarly might be able to help or offer you advice and one day, maybe, in the future they might hear someone say “I really need a secretary to help with this.” And hopefully, if you’ve made the right impressions and build up the right relationship, they will say “Oh you must contact Amanda Roulstone, she is freelance and very, very good.”