How I Found My Networking Happy Place
Can I tell you a secret? The number one reason I like to use LinkedIn for networking is because I do not have to leave the comfort of my laptop to get results! And I am sure I am not alone. However, what I do know from the 7 years that I have built and grown a successful consulting business, is that online networking is simply not enough to help you build your professional network. Assuming, that is, you are a community builder like me and wish to learn, grow and achieve the ambitious results we all want for ourselves and our businesses.
The hardest part about this realisation is that I have to sometimes put myself out there and attend business networking events that exhaust me. You see, I have ambivert tendencies, and so can sometimes be drained by people, rather than energised, the way extroverts are. This means that if I am to go to the effort to meet people face to face at a business networking event and talk about myself (which is never something I feel 100% comfortable with), then I want to meet people whom I can learn from, collaborate with, and yes, potentially also do business with one day.
At the start of my business journey I spent quite a lot of time going to more networking events than I attend now, and it was hard yakka. Two minute pitches about who I am and how I can help were so confronting. But in a weird kind of way I also enjoyed how I felt after these events (not the feeling drained part) as they pushed me WAY outside my comfort zone. I have learnt over the years where there is discomfort, there is growth. This is certainly the case when I consider the wonderful people I have met and business relationships, and friendships, I have developed as a result of face to face networking.
My Networking Happy Place
The good news is that I did find my networking happy place, also known as YTM networking events, run by Kerryn Powell. Funnily enough, I did meet Kerryn at her ‘speed networking’ event which was a feature event as part of the Small Business Festival Victoria Program in 2014. I laugh about this now because speed networking is so far from the types of events that Kerryn now hosts and is quite famous for. But, like me, Kerryn loves to try new things and this event was an example of that.
Since first meeting Kerryn I have attended a number of YTM events as a guest speaker, she has invested in my social strategy and LinkedIn services, I have been a judge for the Inaugural YTM Awards and we have co-hosted a Small Business Festival Victoria event together. Kerryn’s approach is ‘old school’ and when I first told her this she ticked me off for saying it, until I explained that I used it as a compliment. Old school is a term I use to describe a style or approach that may not be new, but is is tested, proven, and works. Like me, Kerryn is a trained teacher (although she’s had much more child classroom time than I have), values relationships and genuinely enjoys helping people succeed. Our collaboration continues with Think Bespoke being the LinkedIn Strategy Partner for YTM’s 2017 Brighton event program.
How to Maximise Online & Face to Face Networking
At a time when there is more pressure to network at business events AND get online, business owners need to know how to maximise their online and face to face efforts to get results! It is my deep knowledge of Linkedin and networking skills that I have developed, and now train others to apply and use, that has enabled me to get maximum value from the face to face networking events I attend. Online networking via LinkedIn (e.g. via my profile, private messaging and Think Bespoke’s LinkedIn company page) is an extremely powerful tool to help me grow a base of referrers and clients. My approach is founded on Content Marketing principles and my goal is to attract, acquire and engage my community online (often after meeting them first at an event, or face to face).
I am also a little bit ‘old school’ and value face to face interactions, private conversations and getting to know what makes people tick. It is for this reason that networking both face to face (at the right events) and online via LinkedIn works so well for me. I take a tailored and genuine approach.
My main focus is B2B individuals and organisations, so I spend most of my online time on LinkedIn. You will also find me on Instagram, because I love photographic art, and I am sometimes also on Facebook (often because wonderful colleagues and friends ‘tag’ me into posts). And, of course, you will find me at YTM events even more this year as a key partner for YTM’s Brighton program of events.
If you’d like to learn more about Kerryn’s YTM events please visit the YTM website here.