“The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.” – Keith Ferrazzi
When we polled member of Freelance Heroes about the topics they want covered at 2019’s Freelance Heroes Day event, high on that list was “Networking” which is a word that conjures a mixtures of feelings (as you’ll see if you keep reading this article), from excitement of the opportunities to make new connections to the fear of being on the receiving end of intense sales pitches.
We also know, from previous polls, that many freelancers aren’t networking fans. To add a greater understanding, we asked the group:
When was the last time you attended a business networking event?
As you can see, most are fairly regular attendants, with over half of those polled having been to one in the last month. However, almost 9% have never been, for a variety of reasons, with some questioning their worth at all.
Here are the words from some of those who were in favour of networking:
“Networking is, and has been, the lifeblood of my business. It’s all about forging business relationships rather than the hard-sell.”
“I Love networking when you find the right group. I’ve been a member of some great groups and some very ‘cliquey’ (sp) ones.”
“Finding a great networking group has been amazing for me. They’re all so different & I find the salsey, corporate ones unbearable!! But the coffee morning type ones aren’t necessarily that productive. Now I’ve got a great group it’s like having 50 friends in business, I wouldn’t be without it”
“I’m quite specific in the networking events I enjoy, actually find beneficial and don’t trigger a load of social anxiety. I moved to Shrewsbury and couldn’t find anything that suited, after being quite spoilt with some amazing ones in Manchester. SO I’ve set up my own. Just a few months in and they’re going amazingly!”
“I go to networking events every week usually and love them. I go to find like minds, to help, offer my network of contacts to others and to ask for help when I need it. NEVER to sell at people.”
We also turned to Twitter, from @FHChat, and here are some responses from those in favour
Hosted one about two weeks ago and LOVED it. Historically not been a fan though – tended to be quite corporate, or at awkward times when I’d be dropping kids at nursery / putting them down to bed. Definitely think they’re worth doing if you find the right people though!
— DoingItForTheKids (@DIFTK) February 4, 2019
I attend every business networking event that I can get to. If I didn’t do this, I wouldn’t be in the position now where I am a full time massage therapist in the corporate world ???♂️? pic.twitter.com/OPSctkBgWT
— Super Calming & Holistic (@supercalming) February 4, 2019
Business networking is the key to success! Great to meet people and get ideas, especially if you normally work alone #freelance
— Softwood Self-Publishing (@swspublishing) February 4, 2019
As I said, not everyone is a fan. Such as…
“I am partly freelance because of having a specialised skill set and knowledge base. The more niche you are the less relevant any networking event becomes.”
Having attended several during my first year of trading I found that online networking generated far more enquiries so the ROI just wasn’t worth it. Plus I’m now so busy I can’t justify half a day out of the office, when that could be time spent on revenue generating work…
— Emma Read VA ? (@emmareadva) February 4, 2019
I’m just too busy to go, they’re all written in my diary but clients come first and then school holidays interrupt them!
— Pippa Akram (@Social_Pip) February 4, 2019
I haven’t been to one in a couple of years. Never been a fan of them really. Plus, I’ve never needed to go. I don’t need them to get business.
— That. Content. Shed. (@thatcontentshed) February 4, 2019
I really don’t find them of use. Everyone is selling something, instead of just making a meaningful business connection and helping each other learn/grow. The con’s outweigh the pro’s for me.
— Prosper Virtual Assistant (@ProsperVAUK) February 4, 2019
Many also don’t attend because of anxiety and other mental health reasons, and thankfully online groups are their to support them too.
What About You?
Do you love or hate networking? Why? What would the best networking event experience be for you? Has any of these comments made you feel any different about networking events?
As ever, we’d love to hear from you at @FHChat, as well as via #FreelanceHeroes, or via the Freelance Heroes FB group.