Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Weymouth speed networking breaks records

Ainslie set records here - so could you!
If the thought of speed networking, or business networking of any kind, fills you with dread - read on!

Last week, I survived, and even enjoyed, the second speed networking breakfast laid on by the Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce.

The format is simple. I was handed a sheet telling me which table to sit at for each of the seven short sessions. Three other people were at each table and during the session we each had one minute to say who we were and what we did.

We then had another minute each to make an extra point, ask a question or enjoy small talk. Once our eight minute session was over, we all moved on to the next table on our list. I was never in a session with the same person more than once, and by the end of the event I still hadn’t met everyone in the room.

Halfway through, we paused for bacon sandwiches and a short talk from the sponsor. Tea and coffee were on tap throughout.

No pressure networking

The one minute ‘this is who I am’ presentations were painless. No one delivered a hard sell and, while coming with a prepared script was encouraged, most didn’t. It was all very conversational.

There was no pressure to buy from one another, or to make any form of commitment. This was simply an opportunity to tell other business owners what you do and to give some insight as to why they may want to use your services.

That said, not everyone present was an owner - some were employees. But they were in the minority.

Business networking made easy

If you’re not a fan of networking, this approach could work for you. Perhaps you don’t like the idea of addressing a large group - this involved speaking to just three others at a time.

Maybe you don’t know how to sell yourself at a networking meeting - this makes it really easy to prepare and practise a very short presentation, in a supportive environment. Almost everyone simply said who they were and what they did, which usually filled the time.

This type of speed networking event is also ideal for those reluctant to attend a meeting by themselves. There’s no danger of being left out of the conversations.

It’s too early to know whether any business will come directly from this meeting, but I look on networking as a long-term, not short-term strategy. I’ll be back next time and I’m not bothered if I meet all the same people again. I’ll get to know them a little better, and they me, and experience says that one day these relationships will lead to direct business or to referrals.

Finally - the record that was broken last week? (Look back at the title). It was for the number of business cards I’ve given away at a single event.

Andrew Knowles copywriter for business

Visit the Weymouth and Portland Chamber of Commerce website to discover more about their business networking events.

Read about other business networking opportunities in Dorset

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