I think most people know that networking is hugely important for any organisation, big or small but with conflicting priorities, is it worth the time and who should go?
Back in 2016, I embarked on a new role as Communications and Marketing Manager for Chiltern Music Therapy. I knew my role would include lots of social media, website, newsletters and press releases, all things that I am confident in being able to do a good job in. A few weeks into the role my Director mentioned that it would be good for me to go along to some networking events. I quietly agreed, hoping that she might forget that she had mentioned it.
As an introvert, networking was my worst nightmare and not something I was comfortable doing. I was in that role for 4 months before taking on other responsibilities at the organisation. Luckily for me, that meant I didn’t have time to go to any networking events.
More recently, my role at Chiltern has been streamlined and I am back in a Communications focused role. I have grown in confidence and have found myself accepting opportunities to go to networking events (I have been to two Charity Meetup events) and even seeking them out. Whilst I still have a long way to go to improve my ‘networking game’ I can really see the benefits.
Chiltern is a service-based organisation and for a long time, I thought networking would only be useful at industry events, in our case music therapy events. However, I am now learning that there are many more benefits to other types of networking. The Charity Meetup events have been a great way to meet like-minded local charities. It has also been useful for my own personal career development.
With this in mind, I think it is important to encourage a wide range of staff members to attend networking events from industry networking events to local networking and everything in between. Each staff member will give and take something different that will be of benefit to both their career development and the organisation they work for.
If you are interested in trying out a networking event, here a few tips that I’ve learnt as a newbie:
1 – Most people are there because they want to listen to what you’ve got to say. Don’t be afraid to approach people
2 – People love to talk about themselves, so if are struggling with what to say, ask about their business. Perhaps prepare a couple of questions before you go
3 – Even if you only talk to one person, that person could turn out to be a real asset to you or your organisation or you to them.
4 – Remember it’s a long game, don’t feel defeated if nothing comes of the first networking event, you need to build relationships and that could take a long time.
Our next Charity Meetup:
Date: Thurs 8 Nov 5:30 – 7.30pm @ The Pace Centre, Aylesbury.
Theme: Using Data to Strengthen Relationships – Book via Eventbrite
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Dawn helps to run this and Katie joins the discussion.