Networking Nightmares

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Now here’s one to ponder over Christmas. Like almost everyone on Linkedin and other social networking groups, I am keen to make new contacts and build relationships. I appreciate and value the importance of networking as a selling tool and as such it should form part of anyone’s sales strategy. Before starting Clearwater Events, I was lucky to work for a multi national events agency where the name said it all but, on starting my own company, I have been thrown to the networking sharks! And in the last four months, it’s been a networking nightmare!!

I was perhaps a little naive when it came to the networking scene, accepting every invitation and believing there was such thing as a free networking lunch! After spending many £10.00’s in unnecessary fees for a rubbish coffee and a sausage on a stick, I feel I need to vent!

I have found it almost scary at times to be thrown in a room full of strangers with nothing more than a weak coffee and a mini quiche for protection. What do I say? Who shall I talk to? Oh, I love those shoes, where are they from? I have loved the speed networking and really enjoyed breakfast sessions even though it means a 5am start, which is just wrong.

However, it’s the professional networking and referral groups that get me! I really don’t need a round of applause for referring a contact to someone. I don’t need to be filling out pieces of paper and popping them through a referral letterbox to be appreciated! I don’t appreciate a comedy horn being blown when someone makes a sale – my ears are still ringing from that ridiculous moment. And as a new company, I certainly don’t need to be spending £600 a year for the privilege!

The power of referral is a natural thing – it really should never be a forced thing…… 

There must be a way that in 2012, us new business owners and entrepreneurs can get together over a glass of wine or a pint of beer and just talk……. Talk about what we need, talk about the economy and just exchange views. Yes, its in the same spirit of perhaps the more professional networking groups but, surely cheaper and more productive?