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Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Natural Networking

Yesterday was a nerve-wracking first for me.

While I've done plenty of public speaking before, yesterday I was faciliating a 2-hour long event for about 50 people on Networking as part of my role as Focused Women Network chair in Scotland.

I was nervous not because I had to stand up and speak, but rather because it was my first event as Chair, and I really wanted people to enjoy the event and find it useful.

We had the idea for the event because usually, when we run Focused Women things, we have a bit at the end called "Networking", usually with drinks. It's after the main event, people are usually running to get buses, pick up children, have dinner, and we don't actually do any of the aforementioned "networking". This time, we wanted to make the whole thing about networking. And not just networking for the sake of it but networking as it could be i.e. sharing, learning, talking, and finding out how you can help others, and others you. In other words, the natural kind of networking that everybody does, but don't realise they do, and so are completely freaked out when things are separately badged as "Networking".

To help with the horrible and stomach-lurching feeling of not knowing what to talk about first, we got everyone to write down on their name badges:

"Ask me about..." and pick a couple of things about themselves. It worked really well. Here's a few examples of things people wrote:

Sustainability, Weekend Notes, Baby Back Ribs, Tap, Samba, Regulatory Risk, My underwear business, Education Committee and far, far more that I didn't get a chance to get a note of.

That was just a part of the day. We also had success stories from our members about how they networked, and how it had helped them, a visit from a business social media expert, and more. Responses are yet to come in from our feedback survey, but judging from verbal feedback and some emails I have had this morning, my first event was very well-received.

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