Some businesses are run by serial networkers – people who will start at least one day a week with a breakfast briefing and finish another with an evening meeting and still manage to slip a lunchtime networking chat in somewhere else in the week. Then there are the businesses at the other end of the spectrum, those that see networking as a necessary evil and, of course, those that shy away from the thermos jugs of coffee and the handful of crumbled business cards altogether. Personally I find the notion of anyone actively being a fan of networking slightly unusual – rather like people who genuinely enjoy long bus journeys or ironing their tea towels. Networking is a vital tool for business though and it’s a process that always turns out to be easier than you imagined it to be and sometimes you can find a networking group that is just perfect for you. Which is where the second problem begins.
In my life as a person who is contractually obliged to attend a certain number of networking events I have often encountered a strange phenomenon. A group of people will openly advertise a networking event but when new members arrive they will discover that in fact what they have wandered into what was once a networking group but has over time evolved into a group of good friends. Finding a great networking group for you is obviously wonderful and making friends through work is a rewarding and important part of life but when your fortnightly networking event turns into a catch up over the state of Liam’s extension building and your various reviews of the new Italian restaurant down the road it may be time to mix things up a little. I’m not saying leave your networking friends behind but simply that in order to grow your business its important to find other groups as well.
As you would expect from a city with a business community as vibrant as Winchester’s there are a great number of networking opportunities available. From groups that meet on the golf course, via greasy breakfast meetings complete with a fry up, to groups exclusively for women in business there is bound to be something new for you to try and along with it a whole new collection of contacts for you to make and relationships for you to build. The Winchester BID of course runs its own series of networking events here at the Winchester Business Centre, the next of these will be held on Thursday April 30th and will feature a presentation from Jan Sargent of the HR Department. Once you’ve headed out and widened your personal business network then you can head back to that group of friends you’ve been networking with for years, now with new contacts for them to make and hopefully new builders to finally sort out Liam’s extension once and for all!