Networking for me is the biggest downside of running my business.
From the early days of having to attend local business get-togethers as I tried to get my name know, to the bigger events I have to endure today. Networking, to me, is false, contrived, and yet a necessary evil of running a business.
You’re not important to me
One of my earliest memories of networking was a local event. I think it was in Colchester.
I nervously entered the room and saw impenetrable groups of people huddled together. One the opposite side of the hall I spotted the coffee and made a beeline for it.
With cup in shaky hand, I took a deep breath and stepped into the melee of people. Trying to make eye-contact, I was shunned by every group (at least that’s how it felt) until I finally spotted a familiar face.
At the point I committed the cardinal sin – I made a beeline for her and stuck to her like glue. Bless her, she did her best to introduce me to others and I did chat, but it felt false.
Then, a miracle happened and a lady, with delegate list in hand, walked towards me. My anxiety kicked in but I smiled sweetly and prepared to dive into small talk to break the ice. However, as she approached she squinted at my name badge, re-checked her list of names (those she wanted to see were highlighted) and turned away. Apparently I wasn’t worth speaking to.
That experienced reinforced my hatred for networking.
Twelve years on
A lot of time has passed since that experience and I’m afraid to say things haven’t got any better.
My networking has dwindled to one event a year. However, it is a big one. Based in London, it’s an organisation that helps women-owned businesses connect with Corporates.
Unbelievably, I have gained work from the Corporates and other women-owned businesses, despite my anxiety.
I have learned, over the years, the when faced with groups of people I freeze. Breaking into those groups feels wrong. I’ve been all sorts of tips over the years and some of them work. However, I can’t get away from the feeling of falseness.
Let’s face it, everyone in that room wants to sell. They’re not interested in who I am or what makes me tick. Women are a bit better in that way as we have the propensity to chat, rather than launch into a sales pitch. Sorry guys, you do. You also have the habit of half-heartedly talking while looking over people’s shoulders (or in my case head) to see if there’s anyone more interesting in the room.
I do what I do and I do it damn well but that doesn’t mean I want to launch into a sales pitch every five minutes. For me, if I’m going to work with someone I want to find out about what makes them tick. I want to see if we have any common ground because that is what’s going to make the relationship work.
I’ll be hiding in the corner
The annual conference I attend in London is always a double-edged sword. It’s fascinating and they have amazing speakers, but there are way too many coffee breaks and networking sessions for my liking.
I’ll never be the type of networker who targets people and hunts them down.
I’ll never the networker who thrusts a leaflet, business card, or brochure at you.
I’ll never be the networker who dashes back to the office to send out rafts of emails to everyone they spoke to, brushed past, or sat next to.
I’ll be the networker skulking in the corner with a glass or water or cup of coffee in hand.
I’ll be the networker who will ask about your family and your day.
I’ll be the networker who doesn’t launch into a sales spiel.
I’m the copywriter who gets on with her work without fuss or drama, makes you look fabulous, reduces your workload, introduces new ideas, and makes your customers fall in love with you.
Sally Ormond may be a crap networker, but she’s a fantastic copywriter. Call her on +44 (0)1449 799605 for a prosperous relationship.