This morning I attended a local networking session, the Woodley Business Club, for the second time – I had enjoyed the first session so much last month that I wanted to go along again. I have lived in the town of Woodley for 12 years, but only discovered that it has a thriving business community last year. It’s a great place to live and I’m settled and connected socially here, so it was really good to find a community for my professional life too.
Today’s presentation, given by Jacqueline Harris of Breath of Fresh Air, was about how to make the most of networking. As you might expect with 20 people in the room, there were a variety of reasons for people attending, ranging from generating business leads to making connections and making friends. For me, a key reason for going along is to get to know a group of local people who understand the joys and challenges of running your own business and to get support and a sense of community – become part of a local team, if you will.
It struck me once again what a variety of people there are in the world (even in my local part of it), how many different things there are for people to do and sell and how communication styles can also vary. There are people who ask lots of questions; people who nod and say ‘hmm’ to show that they’re listening to you; those who actively ‘work the room’ and talk to everyone; those who prefer to have in-depth conversations with just a few others; people who talk solely about business and those who talk more socially. I could go on, listing the ways that I witnessed people communicating, but you get the gist.
This variety was a great ‘real-life’ demonstration of something that I say on my training courses and to all my clients: there is no such thing as right or wrong communication, just more or less effective. And the thing that will enable you to measure the effectiveness of your own communication is a clear idea of what you are hoping to achieve by communicating. In her presentation, Jacqueline emphasised this point by recommending that the first step for getting the most from networking is to prepare by being clear about your objectives. Networking is, after all, about building relationships and clear communication is key to achieving that.
Whatever you are doing, whether you are taking on a formal communication activity, such as a newsletter or running an intranet, or something less formal and more personal, such as contributing at a team meeting or getting to know new people, I’d really recommend having some clear (to you) objectives to help you take it up a level and be more effective.
If you’re preparing for a communication event of one sort or another and you need help in developing your objectives, get in touch to see how I can support you.
And if you live in Woodley, I’d also recommend the Woodley Business Club – we’re a friendly bunch, so come along and say hello.
Until next time