by helen on July 26, 2011

Networking: My story

First off, I’d like to say a huge thank you to all the people I have met in the last 12 months – through networking on and offline – as you have helped me get over my phobia of rooms full of strangers.

Second, to all those people reading this who don’t think networking is for them – IT IS!

But not necessarily for the reasons you think it will be.

I have always shied away from networking, confusing it with a platform for selling.

There’s no doubt that for some people it is. And it’s those people who put off the rest of us.

Networking isn’t all about “me, me, me”. If you want it to work, it has to be about “them, them, them”.

As you walk into your next networking event – wherever, and whatever it is – ask yourself this: “How can these people help me be better at what I do?”

And I don’t just mean professionally.

I have met some truly inspiring people – individuals and groups – who I hope won’t mind me mentioning them here…

Nigel Botterill and all my fellow MySMB’ers. I think it’s fair to say that without My Social Media Business I wouldn’t have reached where I am today. A more inspiring, selfless, creative, supportive and joyful group of people you would be hard pressed to match. My virtual colleagues (we “meet” daily on our Facebook Group page), I thank you from the bottom of my heart and hope one day our paths cross in the real world!

Phill and Jenny Wright of Creating Chaos. I aspire to your energy and fitness levels – both professionally and personally. Thank you for motivating me – I hope one day (soon) to reach the goal I set when we first met.

Gini Dietrich. My virtual mentor when it comes to PR and social media. I can’t remember all the people you have introduced me to – but my thirst for knowledge is constantly being quenched (well, almost!) thanks to Spin Sucks! Gini is based in Chicago – so I doubt I would ever have met her without social media.

Zulfi Hussain of Global Promise. I have volunteered to help out with Zulfi’s Everest Challenge – he is leading a team on a trek to Everest Base Camp in October 2011 to raise funds for Marie Curie Cancer Research and Help the Heroes. Zulfi is a true philanthropist and a really, really nice man. If you know anyone with a spare fiver (or more, or less) – please ask them to support his challenge. 

The Yorkshire Mafia Independent Consultants and Freelancers Group including Darren Maude, Sheila McFee, Louise Ebrey, Gail Radka, Angela Whitlock and the rest of the “team”. We are definitely stronger together and I am looking forward to learning more from and maybe one day working with you!

I wouldn’t have met any of these people – and loads more I haven’t mentioned – if I hadn’t started trying to connect. And I hope that by sharing my experience of networking over the last 12 months, I have given you an insight into the type of people I have started to get to know better, and who hopefully are getting to know me too.

There is no doubt that by increasing my circle or network of friends I am learning about opportunities, sharing these opportunities with people I know, and hopefully we are all benefiting from our connections.

So, my phobia is cured. But I’m now worried I may become a networking addict. Anyone know any support groups I could join? ;)

Today’s task is simple. Find an event happening near you soon – remember Heather Townsend’s advice from Day 8? Book yourself onto an event, get your business cards and leaflets printed, and start connecting.

P.S. Monday’s Yorkshire Mafia Drinks in Doncaster was great fun. I got to catch up with someone I’m hoping to see more of, met a couple of people I have been networking with “online”, introduced myself to someone who (like me at a previous event) was about to give up and go home, and was on the receiving end of an “elevator pitch” which left me and my networking “date” cold! If you are based in Yorkshire and you’re not already in the Mafia, check it out – it has been tremendous for me so far and I am optimistic for “our future” if you know what I mean…

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