Networking – a luxury or a necessary evil?
The word ‘Networking’ sends a shiver down many a business person’s spine. We conjure up images of walking into a room, on your own, to be greeted by huddled groups in deep conversation. The courage required to approach a group, particularly if you don’t know anyone, can dissuade even the most confident of people. So, all too often we dismiss opportunities for networking because it is “too difficult”, or “it is just a talking shop”.
However, my interest and energy in networking has been re-awakened as a result of attending some truly excellent events over the past few months.
Participating in the Enterprise Ireland Going for Growth Programme has been a real eye opener for me. The opportunity to discuss my business with other business leaders, and with a lead entrepreneur (Monica Flood – Thank you), a proven success in business in her own right was an opportunity not to be missed. The annual Forums are an opportunity to learn from some of the leading women entrepreneurs in Ireland (Norah Casey, Anne Herathy amongst others) and an opportunity to network. The networking conducted through this Programme has been highly effective as all the businesses tend to be at a similar stage, and are all open to new ideas.
The Irish Executives Summit held in Galway a few months ago was mind-blowing, the standard of the speakers (including our own Mike Gaffney), the use of technology and the positivity evident that day was a real turning point for many people. For us in LEAP, the Summit was the conduit for us reviewing and updating the presentations we use with clients and for speaking events. It also introduced us to a dynamic and energetic group of business people who together will achieve great things by creating business opportunities together.
The recent MeetWest event organised by the Chambers of Commerce (and other agencies) in Galway, Roscommon and Mayo was another great event. The concept of networking was taken to another level through the use of a “structured, pre-arranged networking meeting” schedule which allowed for 10 meetings during Day 2 of the event. To experience the level of conversation, to see the exchange of business cards, and to hear the arrangement of follow-up meetings was inspiring and comforting – business is being done and will continue to be done, despite the economic situation.
In summary, there currently exists an appetite and an energy for business leaders to access very high quality opportunities for networking.
These opportunities should be grabbed with both hands as they
- Provide the environment to make new, valuable contacts
- Provide the opportunity for self and business improvement
- Generate the positive energy that is a welcome break from the constant negativity that is now the norm.