‘Why don’t you come along to Charity Meetup?’, I asked them.
‘I’m too busy’
‘I don’t DO networking’
‘I won’t know anyone’
‘I don’t need any more clients at the moment’
‘I get nervous in rooms full of people’
When I went freelance five years ago I ploughed my energies into my work, not really looking very far outside the bubble I occupied. I networked, of sorts, but not in an organised way; networking events sounded too formal and off putting, and I would definitely be the type to get cornered by a business card thruster, keen to tell me about their many and varied accomplishments.
It’s only in the last year or so that I have made an effort to attend a few more organised events, in particular the Charity Meetup. Like the people who gave the replies I have listed above, I’m still busy and I’m not necessarily looking for heaps more work, but I think that approach rather misses the point. The event is what you make it so think about what you want to from it and what you can offer. For me, the Meetup has been about finding people to collaborate with, thinking about how my skills can benefit others and finding a crowd of people I can run ideas past, who understand where I’m coming from because they all work with charities too.
It’s a pretty relaxed evening and if you can’t get there for dead on the start time, you will still be very welcome. You might not know anyone when you arrive, but you will by the time you leave. And if walking into a room full of people leaves you feeling cold, check out the #charitymeetup hashtag on Twitter in the days leading up to the event and say hi to some of the people who are going. That way there will be a few familiar faces in the room you can gravitate towards.
The next meet up is on 31 October and is being held at Campus London. This time the event is completely free, so you’ve no excuses not to give it a try. Get yourself booked in and I will see you there!
Having started her working life in local radio, Gemma switched from reading the news to helping create it when she joined a busy police press office. But it was when Gemma took up a PR and fundraising role within a large charity in Yorkshire that she really felt she was achieving something worthwhile.
For over a decade Gemma has worked with numerous charities from city farms to museums, children’s charities to animal rescue centres, helping them to raise their profile and in turn raise money to support their services. Gemma has also helped a number of small businesses communicate better and grow their customer base. When it comes to larger projects she likes to involve trusted colleagues who she have worked with on a number of projects. “It’s a cliché, but no two days are the same and genuinely love what I do – even all the admin!”
Outside of work, you’ll find Gemma walking her dog by the seaside, cooking up a storm in the kitchen and puffing her way through training sessions (very necessary due to all the cooking and baking).