My previous experience of business networking:
“Hey there! Do you want to join our business network?”
no thanks, I’d rather chop my own legs off with a spoon
“Ah.. er.. yes sure, I will pop along. Sound’s great. Can’t wait!”
If you business network already you likely fall into one of two camps: Camp 1-The Positively Evangelistic or Camp 2-Utter Dread and Horror.
I found networking excruciating- rather like drinking in Yarm sometimes. A little too all fur coat and no knickers.
I totally get that the purpose of networks is to get business. Obviously I’m all for that; growing business, developing personally, making contacts and such forth. This is quite obviously brilliant and purposeful, but, maybe specifically so with our professions being so personal (writing and photography), I need it to be totally honest to have real integrity.
I like to talk to other humans, on that level, not walking advertisement hoardings. Furthermore, I cannot be trusted to say no sometimes when I should- perfectly displayed at the weekend where I felt compelled to buy a garden chair I couldn’t afford and didn’t need as I didn’t want to HURT THE FEELINGS of the guy who made it. Gratefully I wasn’t alone so was stopped… I hope he’s alright…
So this is who showed up for the first development meetings of this new network a few months ago. All these stereotypes firmly in my mind already, I went purely on the basis that Janice Auton of Poppy’s Hairdressing and Pamela Hargreaves of Xivvi seemed far too interesting and authentic to have come up with an event that wasn’t.
As the group have met, developed and grown, Janice and Pamela, with demonstrable support from Stockton Council, have created a space where I genuinely believe more business will be passed than any other as the group is based on literal, supportive and interested connections. Whilst this is an informal and relaxed group it is not without structure, dynamism and experience. Pulling that mix off is what gives the group its core strength. Maintaining professionalism and integrity in a low-pressure and open environment.
There are no cliques, there are no sales pitches rammed down your throat, no one’s feelings get hurt (poor chair guy), and there are no pressures. I’ve seen no clicks or gangs, and certainly no penalties- but there is wine and food, conversation and friendships. So you can leave feeling refreshed not exhausted.
Running a business is relentless; it’s brilliant fun and the highs are awesome. It’s also bloody hard though, it can hurt, it’s tiring and it can be extremely isolating. If you are female and running your own business here in Stockton please JOIN IN. There were 40 businesswomen at the last event, with such an incredible wealth of knowledge between them, access to that alone is priceless. It is not a mutually exclusive network- if you are one of those people that are totally boss at other networks and just love that craic then brilliant! Still come, you won’t be alone either, there is space for all of us. That’s part of the point.
The next meeting is tomorrow night:
Cultures Cafe CIC, Dovecot Street Stockton, 5.30-7pm, Wednesday 7 May – it’s £10 and light refreshments are included.
If you cant make this but want to sign up to hear about future events here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Successful and Dynamic Businesswomen – that’s Real Stockton.