“I have a love and hate relationship with networking. I know it’s good to do, but a bad networking event can be miserable. Actually I consider myself a pretty good networker and that’s why I’d like to reduce the misery and increase the effectiveness for us all. The truth is we want to make contacts so we can get work. That’s priority no.1.
So why: “powerful”?
We could probably use other words as well including, ‘useful’, ‘effective’, ‘engaged’ and so on. The point is that it should be less random and have a tangible output – that’s why we went along isn’t it?
There are some flaws of networking that can with a little work be eliminated. A couple of years ago, the IIM kicked off a serious of ‘local nodes’. Small groups held locally which we’re very successful initially but ultimately were very hard to sustain, because the output was not tangible enough.
The formula was: meet some other Interims you don’t know over a pint or glass of wine was too unfocused to stick. Unless you were the groups run by Charles Stuart in the North West or Stuart Copeland in Milton Keynes so they will be a point of enquiry to learn from their success. They are particularly successful because they are not just ‘meet-ups’ they address issues. Charles’ next session is on the 13th May to which yours truly will be taking a nosey. Stuart Copeland’s next Milton Keynes event is on the 4th June.
So back to the networking relaunch: Some do’s and don’ts. (actually principally do’s) – this is what we think will make it good:
- DO – make the list of who is attending available not only at the event but before the event, otherwise how do you know who will be there?
- DO – introduce a method to manage at least one of your networking goals. If you want to meet someone or find a route to someone, some provider or some sector, then we will facilitate that – it might be a whiteboard, it might be a ‘call out’ Q&A – not sure yet – we’ll do what is most effective. And if we expect Providers and/or Clients to attend, then we will seek to facilitate their aims as well.
- DO – include name badges with big text so it is easy to see who people are.
- DO – hold the event in a professional venue. Not a pub or similar venue where it is too noisy. The location must be private, professional and quiet enough to talk.
- DO – give an electronic place for networking follow up. Each meeting location will have a bespoke LinkedIn subgroup (or full group if it merits it) to make it easy to connect and reconnect with the people you met.
- DO – provide food – so some hearty nibbles as you will have had a long day – but there will not be a sit down Chicken dinner because that gets in the way of networking. We will try to avoid pricey canapes but you know how it is with venues…
- DO – take a short time-out mid evening for a facilitated discussion of market news and to take Q and A on current topics / questions. Probably no more than 30 minutes. No lengthy slide decks. No presentations that are in reality Sales spam.
- DO – introduce a regular schedule, but not so often that it becomes tiresome. The best networking comes from meeting people -again. My instinct is that quarterly is about right.
- DO – introduce a ‘moderation’ element. If a total idiot attends and spams everyone then there will be a facility to flag that to the moderator and their invitation may be withdrawn. So there…
So when are we trying this out?
In two weeks time. Moorgate, London. Monday 15th April.
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