The Gin Bar - Tips for Networking

  • I used to run ladies business networking groups in the North West of England and retired in 2014.

    Two weeks later all the women started ringing and emailing me to say “Please keep doing events, we liked them”. When I discussed this with my husband he asked me to stay retired like him but he also made the mistake of telling me he would pay for everything if I didn’t work except my hair. He felt I should let it go grey. Well, I have been a Red Head all my life and I wasn’t going to stop now so “Creative Connecting in Cheshire” was born. I decided that if I could make enough money to pay for a professional colour every 7 weeks I would keep going!

    I try to keep things very simple with as little admin as possible but my passion is still bringing business women together to grow their businesses and introducing the right people to each other.

    Local business entrepreneurs enjoy my events but just recently we have been joined by quite a few retired ladies who still enjoy meeting new people and hearing good speakers. I think of this as a plus as we have a new dimension to the meetings and these ladies also have a wealth of experience to share.

    Many business success stories have come about as a result of my introductions and events but this week I had an unexpected success.

    A lady contacted me to say she was recently widowed and had moved up from London and she wanted to attend my events and could she meet me. I met her quickly at a venue where I was planning an event and I just happened to mention that a group of retired ladies met on a Friday at the local Gin Bar. She wanted to join them so I messaged one of the ladies, who said, Tell her to wear Pink for Breast Cancer Week and ask for Mary. Well she rushed off home to change and I thought to myself “That’s a different kind of networking I’ve arranged for someone today so I probably won’t see her again.”

    Anyway today I have received a booking from some of those ladies plus their new friend for my next event so I realised that I have benefitted too and I can have my hair cut and coloured next month!.

    So the biggest piece of networking advice I can give you. Just be open, smile and be generous of spirit and a good listener and prepared for anything

    When you go to a networking event, don’t ram your business down people’s throats and just be the kind of person you would like to mix with yourself.

    I am guessing that in Spain the Costa Women’s events are very similar to mine, filled with a mix of people who want to make a serious living and a need to connect in order for their businesses to grow. But there will be others who just want to mix and be part of a comfortable group. People are looking for connections who could become part of their posse and believe in their dreams and support them. That’s the same the world over.

    I will finish with a story that sums up networking for me and I hope will give you more food for thought.

    I once held a small event in Liverpool at a hotel and about 20 ladies turned up including two new ladies who had never attended my events before. After the event the feedback forms were returned and the two new ladies said:

    Lady No One: I loved meeting everyone today, from the minute I walked in everyone was really friendly and I felt as if I was amongst friends. There were no delegate lists or name badges so I felt that everyone who came to talk to me was genuinely interested in me and I loved hearing what everyone did, I will be back.

    Lady No Two: What an unfriendly gathering, everyone knew each other and was in little cliques. No one wanted to hear me chat about my business and there were no delegate lists or name badges so I couldn’t choose to target the right people. And when I went to the toilet there were two cockroaches. I won’t be back.

    You can draw your own conclusions from this but I know that if you enter a networking group for the very first time and just be friendly and warm you will be sure to go away with at least one contact that could become a business acquaintance or even a personal friend

    Tell the organiser you don’t know anyone and if you are at the right kind of event, she will introduce you to someone welcoming and your happy networking experience can begin.