What, When, Why and How. Ok up until November 2010 my past experiences of any networking group had been poor, some of that because I personally could not be asked to attend, I was just dragged along as a guest to make the numbers up and see if I was mad enough to join up. The other point was that all anyone wanted to do was to try to sell their business and themselves to you, and then tell you what they had done for other members in the room. Knowing that the service that you were offering did not suit the needs of anyone in the room made it difficult to see the point of attending.

My attitude maybe a bit old fashioned but if someone wants to sell something to me, pick the phone up ask the question, am I interested in ( x ) if yes then maybe we could arrange for them to come and see me, job done. In my world people buy from people and it’s not what you know it’s who you know.

However I had been told that over the past 5 or 6 years networking meetings had changed but because of the bad experiences in the past I have certainly kept away. Then in November last year I met up with a Stella from AboutMyArea an on-line information website based in Maldon who somehow persuaded me to attend a local networking group in Witham. One of the reasons for going was because Stella was going to start the Maldon Business Networking Group in Maldon based around the Witham setup, little did I know at the time that my thoughts on networking would change.

Stella said it was free to attend, informal no stand up speeches and no one asking directly for work and the coffee was quite good as well, since that day I have now managed to attend a few different types of networking meetings which I have enjoyed. The events that I have attended have all been different, local networking events, council events, FSBessex event and by kind invertatation from Emma at Spectrum Merchandising to join in at a 4N group breakfast meeting at Maldon golf club.

In mid March I will be attending as a guest a BNI meeting which I have been told will be very different from the bad experiences of the past, but we will see.

An overview of what I have learnt so far in a short time from my local networking experience. I have met some very nice and interesting people from completely different business back grounds, it has generally been very relaxed and social. I have enjoyed listening to other people talk about their industry the good and also some of bad parts without them trying to sell themselves or pushing their business services on to me.

I must say a very big thank you to the persistence of Stella in getting me to join in. If you have never been to a networking meeting, I would urge you to try one out.

To be continued!