Is it just me, or are women’s business networks popping up everywhere? I feel like everyone I talk to has either joined one, is thinking about joining one or has attended an event. So why is there so much hype and are they really beneficial? In the past I was never really big on networking. I attended a few events but got turned off pretty quickly because of a few not so great experiences. A couple of the events I attended were on such a huge scale, I found that many of the attendees were there in groups and not really interested in mingling outside of those groups. Then at other events, some of the people I came across really put me off – arrogance oozed out of them and I really couldn’t be bothered with it.
If I’m really honest, I struggled getting the confidence to approach people at networking events. I would stand back and watch others in action, envious of how naturally it came to them. Every time I attempted to speak to anyone, I’d get completely tongue tied and just end up looking like an idiot. It took me a long time to just relax and not feel pressured to impress these people I was meeting for the first time. Lets be honest, there is nothing natural about networking and really we’re all there for the same reason, to make some new contacts and spread our reach, some people just make it look easier than others.
More recently, I decided to give it another crack, so a girlfriend and I (we were each other’s wing man), attended a women’s business lunch run by the City of Banyule. The keynote speaker was the very inspiring Carolyn Creswell of Carman’s Muesli fame. Carolyn was an amazing speaker, incredibly motivating and effective at getting her message across. She is an amazing business woman – strong, focused, resilient and business smart. She really is a great role model for other women wanting more out of business and their careers. Listening to Carolyn reinvigorated my hunger for success and I left there with new energy and focus on my own goals.
I would have been happy to just leave with some new motivation, but I left there with much more, I left with some great networking experience. This event was much more intimate than many other events I’ve been to, everyone seemed so relaxed and approachable which immediately put me at ease. I ended up meeting some amazing business savvy women who were looking to connect with others in the same manner that I was. The best part about it was that they were all great women, who I would love to and look forward to working with.
In the end I left there feeling great, I was completely inspired and motivated by Carolyn, I met some great women and I made some contacts, woohoo!! I’m looking forward to attending more networking events and I’m really hoping it proves to be beneficial and helps me to grow both personally and professionally. If you feel the way I did about networking, look into and attend some smaller events and it may just change the way you feel about it.