Have you ever been speed-dating? Me neither. But I attended my first speed-networking this week and I’m pretty sure it’s the same sort of thing! the principle’s the same, anyway. Forty people sitting in two opposite lines, swapping phone numbers, shuffling along every two minutes and rotating at the end. Quick, quick, quick. Hoping there will be someone you can hook-up with. I mean link-in with. One minute to listen and pitch is enough if you do it right. The evening was really good fun. At times it was hard to hear, concentrate and yoyo along the row through all the loud chatter and laughter, but that added to the challenge.
I met some brilliant people. The event was arranged by a new organisation called Your Business Community set up by Ted, a man I met a couple of years ago at another networking event. Ted sought me out that day… he’d been an avid reader of my blog for some time and recognised that we had a fair amount in common. So he approached me with a conversation about Fleetwood Mac and, I think, something chocolate-related. Of course I spent the rest of that afternoon with him and we linked-up on LinkedIn and kept in touch afterwards.
There was no chocolate at this event, although the wine was flowing and the roving buffet was lovely. I managed to drop a goat’s cheese and caramelised red onion canapé down my silky purple dress – at least not down my bra like that time at the opera – and I definitely handled it more elegantly this time. Practice makes perfect!
I often meet people that impress me at these events, but I was blown away by one person. Ben Towers set up a successful web design business five years ago, expanding into logo design and print. He currently employs 15 people and is looking to continue growing the business this year. Ben’s success is a remarkable achievement for any start-up, but what’s incredible is that he is only 16 years old. He started his business when he was a child of 11!!
He gave a fantastic, confident off-the-cuff presentation to the 200 people in the room, telling us the challenges he’s faced setting up. Web design and printing aside, this young man commanded the room with the skill and charisma of someone twice his age. Absolutely amazing!!!
So I joined Your Business Community. Ted gave me a special deal and I signed up there and then. Don’t often do that, but I liked some of the benefits that go with the membership. I also liked some of the people I met with their eclectic mix of businesses, ranging from sitcom production to French apprenticeships, and journalistic PR to Fabulous Women. (Not fabulous women covered in cheese and onion canapés…)
No doubt you’ll be hearing more about the benefits of this networking in the months to come. And as all the FM fans know, “It’s hard to find someone with that kind of intensity; you touched my hand, I played it cool… and you reached out your hand to me…” You can always reach out to me – here I am: @WeekendWitch.
(Thank you for the lyrics, Welsh Witch!)