From online to IRL, the benefits of real life networking

September 18, 2011 at 11:04 am Leave a comment

Breakfast apple crumble

Last Sunday morning, right after I uploaded Brian’s Tree, I was lucky enough to attend the Chicks in Business networking breakfast at Mooba cafe in Subiaco. (If you go there, I highly recommend the breakfast apple crumble. I loooove apple crumble, so getting to eat it for breakfast? Heaven).

It was a great morning, giving me the chance to catch up with some old friends, meet some people I know from Twitter for the first time, and make entirely new friends.

However, I have to admit when I was invited to this breakfast I was a little hesitant. Previously my experience with networking has been through industry events (as a journalist) and Rotary, networking with men and women with a diverse range of ages and experiences.

I must admit, I questioned whether there would be enough diversity at an event just for women, and mostly women within my sort of age bracket (at a guess, although I’m terrible at guessing ages, no one there could have been much older than 30).

Still, I know and respect a couple of the ladies running it, and figured that if they were involved it would be worth attending.

I am so glad I did, because it was definitely worth it! The biggest surprise for me was that, despite being the same gender and similar ages, there was still so much diversity at the table. Most of the people there were in my position, working a day job and then following their passion in their spare time, so it was great to meet people who do understand that kind of juggling act.

Hot chocolate in a jar - best idea ever? I think so!

But at the same time, everyone was at different stages of building up, and we all had different insights to share.

I think the thing that stuck with me the most was Jana, who runs two physiotherapy centres, who talked about how she’s actually focusing on working less hours.

It was really interesting to hear, because I have always associated running your own business with working day and night. Of course, Jana is still working on her business constantly – she is responsible for everything; keeping it running, making sure it’s profitable, making sure staff and clients are happy, building up business relationships with other local businesses such as doctors, the branding and marketing – it all comes back on her.

So really, with all of those things to take into account, doing less physical work means she has more energy to give to those areas of her business, as well as meaning that she is available to cover staff when they are ill or away, so that the clients have someone to care for them.

When I thought about how much time I spend just thinking about strategies and ideas for this little ol’ blog of mine, I realised how much time a physical business with staff would take, and how much of a commitment it involves.

When you look at it that way, it makes perfect sense to let your staff do what they do best, while you focus on the big picture – something that, according to Aunty B over at SmartCompany, women can be particularly bad at!

Mind = blown.

I think what I really learned from this breakfast was something that I hadn’t really gotten from previous networking events, due largely to the intimate nature of this one. It wasn’t just about making contacts, it was about sharing ideas and experiences to learn from one another.

Having fewer people meant the opportunity to engage in conversations with everyone there, with a nice natural flow between smaller side conversations and group discussions.

Another benefit of the networking breakfast? The goody bags! Yep, I’m a 3 year old at heart, and the pretty paper bag filled with people’s business information, a photography discount, skull pencils (perfect for my new job!) and a jar of hot chocolate mix that made just about the best hot chocolate I’ve had filled me with delight. Oh, and there was even a funky house-shaped stressball from Community News, which my kitten loves to play with. Free kitty toy!

A huge thanks goes out to Nicolette, Carly and Kate for organising the breakfast and giving me the opportunity to meet so many great new people and learn so much.

xx

Chrissie

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Entry filed under: Author's Notebook, Blog, Review. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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