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Monday, 24 February 2014

A little bit of networking and a little bit of cake

I've never really had any experience of "networking" during my career - mainly because I always worked as an accountant in the finance/systems departments of companies rather than for myself. But now that I'm working by myself I thought it would be good to give it a try.

A friend is a member of the Bedfordshire Businesswomen organisation and invited me along to one of their networking meetings as a guest. I had heard of the group previously, on facebook and twitter,  but didn't really know much about what happens at a meeting or what the benefits of attending would be. So, I decided the only way to find out was to take a deep breath, grab some business cards and jump in!

The meeting was an Afternoon Tea held at The Olde Watermill in Barton which is currently undergoing some renovations and expansions. We met in the back of the restaurant.

As I was there as a guest it was handy to have someone to introduce me to people but I found everyone very friendly. Being new also helped as the first question was "What do you do?" and then the conversation flowed. I'm glad I had my lovely business cards, printed by Sparkle Design and Print as I handed them out to as many people as possible.

The meeting began with the "Monthly Member Minutes", which I thought would be notices and announcements about the members when I read the schedule of the day, but I'd got the wrong end of the stick! It was actually a quick whizz around the room where everyone gave a 1 minute introduction about themselves and their business. This was interesting and it was great to hear about the wide range of businesses represented. Although next time I would try to keep a note of who was sat where as I lost track after the first 10 names!

Photo from @carysgdayne

Then we had a round robin of four "Member surgeries" - where a member came to our table and discussed a topic - these covered Outsourcing by Jennie at Office Angels Ltd, Social Media with Carys from Specky and Ginge, Business Awards by Nicola from Woodfines and Potential Business Risks with Gill and Tamsin. This resulted in lively discussions.

The meeting ended with the updates from the Chair and a raffle prize was awarded by the hosts at the Watermill.

There was then a chance for further networking but I'd made the rookie mistake of sitting in a position where I could see everyone but couldn't manage to get across the room to talk. Luckily, we were all provided with the contact details of the attendees so I will be dropping a few emails to the ladies I didn't get to talk to. I've connected to a few on twitter already.

Throughout the meeting we were supplied with sandwiches, cakes and the biggest scones I've ever seen! The staff of the Watermill were helpful and coped well with 30 ladies in a confined space!
Photo from @speckyandginge


My first experience of a "networking" meeting has proved a positive one but I've yet to decide if I will join. It has spurred me on to make sure that I attend the next AGRA (The Association of Genealogist and Researchers in Archives) networking meeting in April as I have been accepted as an Associate Member.

I will be looking at future BBW events with interest now I know a bit more about what to expect. My problem is that until September, when all the children are at school full time, Thursdays are a difficult day for me but if the topic is interesting, the location is right and the timing is good I can always find a way! I've made a note of the next meeting as it's a subject I'm interested in and I can attend 2 meetings to "try it out" before I have to decide about joining.

If you're like me and not sure whether to take the plunge I would say go for it! I always worry that I won't know what to say to people or that everyone else will already have their group of contacts but I was put at ease quickly. Everyone is there for the same reason and I came away with a few new bits of business knowledge, potential non-genealogy contacts and a full tummy! As a professional genealogist where my working day can predominantly be spent on my own the opportunity to get out and meet fellow businesswomen shouldn't really be missed either.

Thank you to everyone for making me feel so welcome and Jess from Willing Voices who took me along as her guest.

2 comments:

  1. I like your blog. It is great to hear your first experience of networking went well. BBW are very welcoming. @rubymoonbeam

    i was particularly interested in your geneology bit as i am embarking on my family tree.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for taking the time to read the blog and glad to hear you are enjoying it.

      If you have any particular questions about genealogy just get in touch and if I can't help I will know someone who can.

      Good luck with your family tree.

      Jo

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