In one of my earlier blogs I mentioned my previous fear of networking and how I didn’t think I would like it much at all, which is partly why I began this series. To convince myself and encourage others who felt the same way to take the plunge! While I am still a relative newcomer to networking, I am beginning to enjoy it more and more. I have been to several new events solo, as well as my regular groups. Networking groups come in different shapes and sizes: local area; woman only; men only; specific business; breakfast meetings, you can take your pick. While I am not a member of men only, obviously, or the breakfast meetings, much too early, the groups I do belong to are helping me to build a network of colleagues to call on for joint working or expert advice when needed.
My networking has been a little quieter over the summer as I was working for a client who preferred onsite support three days a week. With regular commuting, which I am not used to any more, plus travelling via the ‘time tunnel’ of London Bridge, I didn’t have much energy for more adventures. However, I am fully back in the swing of networking again now and last week I attended three events in the same day, as well as fitting in a client meeting!
The first event was our monthly Athena lunch meeting, there was a break in August and we are now back to our regular meetings. It was great to see everyone again after the summer break and hear news about the growth and development of our businesses. Each month we have visitors and our membership seems to expand at every meeting. The group is run by Stella Fehmi, Regional Director. Stella, is starting a new Athena Group on Tuesday 18 October in Canary Wharf and is looking for founding members to join. Do contact Stella, if you are interested in attending or would like to find out more about Athena.
I belong to the City Athena group and I have found it to be hugely supportive group of women, it has enabled me to practice my ‘monthly minute’ or ‘elevator pitch’ without being judged, even if my face is as red as a tomato! Via Athena, I have made some valuable friendships and also been introduced to clients.
The second event was run by Charlotte Wibberley of VIP VA. VIP VA launched in May of this year and is a connection service matching top class VAs to clients. If you are a client looking for an exceptional VA or a VA looking for your dream client, reach out to Charlotte or check out the website. There are opportunities for VAs to connect in person, as well as online forums and masterclasses available. Virtual Angels are very pleased to be a founder member of VIP VA, promoting highly skilled virtual assistants or ‘Vision Accelerators’ as we are also known!
Finally, I attended the SEEN and Being Heard networking group that meets at the Clarendon Hotel in Blackheath on the second Tuesday of each month. This is an informal mixed networking group, full of different businesses. I was introduced to SEEN, via one of my Athena connections, networking going full circle.
Through this group I have met Izabella Niewiadomska, who masterminded the Contribution Conference in 2016, raising funds for BLESMA-The Limbless Veterans Charity, which I was very pleased to be involved with and am delighted to say, I will be a part of in 2017! No doubt I will be blogging about the conference nearer the time.
Networking, rather than being the chore that I previously would have avoided with a barge-pole, has become something that I enjoy and look forward to! Developing key contacts that you can call on when trouble appears, for expert advice or joining a walking event that gets you outside to network in a more informal way.
Do look around at your local groups and see what you could take part in, in your local area. Networking provides you with connections and really opens the door to people that you may not otherwise be able to find. Remember, ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know!’
I have thoroughly enjoyed my first year of networking properly and it has whizzed by. There are more events to look forward to over the coming months, including one or two Christmas parties – what more could I wish for? Watch out for more of my adventures coming soon!