I decided that last week was going to be the week that I started to 'get out' more. Keith is the one that attends all of the networking groups normally and he's tried loads. BNI, 4 Networking, Hitchin Town Initiative, FSB, Environmental Population, Ashleys Breakfast Club to name just a few! All of these, with the exception of the BNI are monthly, some at the crack of dawn, some mid afternoon and some early evening. In fact, you could spend your whole week networking if you wanted to. Some businesses see networking as a key part of their marketing strategy and it is a really good way of getting your name remembered.
Now I normally only go to the monthly Women in Business Networking group which is at lunch time and therefore fits in with the school run. An issue that many of us working mums have. But I decided that I ought to try out a few other groups and see what they were like. You would think that because we run our own networking events, that walking into a room full of people wouldn't bother me, but I really had to force myself to do it. The first session I went to was Enterprising Women. This is partly funded by the Government but as the political situation is a bit shaky at the moment, they are having to start charging for membership. This particular session was completely free and there was a speaker on the topic of 'networking tips'. There were about 30 ladies there from a variety of backgrounds and I didn't get nervous once I was in the room and talking to a few people. It was great to speak to at least half a dozen people who had received our bestofhitchin door drops through their front doors being Hitchin residents.
Then I ventured further south to a group called 'Women on Top' whicfh met at in Hatfield. They were doing a special event fundraising for the Willow Foundation. Nice group but really too far away from Hitchin to be of much interest for me. It's always good to spread the name and awareness of your business but there are other more local 'bestofs' that could benefit from that group.
Wednesday I went to a new group called 'Divas' run by Alyson Price from Curves Ladies Gym. Now this could be a good group to join if your business is aimed predominantly at ladies. It was nice to be able to ask questions of each other rather than having to stand up and explain your business in 60 seconds. The group is going to start running properly in September but if anyone is interested in joining, you should contact Alyson at Curves.
On Thursday I attended a networking launch of Access Self Storage in Stevenage who are new members to thebestof hitchin. They have 50 stores all over the UK and are with 35 'bestof's as they say it is such great value and an exceptional way to spread the word about their business. This was a joint venure with the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce and thebestofhitchin and it was a great event to meet lots of local business. Well worth considering if you are moving home, or got lots of stock to store.
So by Friday I was networked out but really pleased that I had made the effort to attend these. I just need to keep at it!