Over the last two years I have attended almost every networking group in the Croydon area in order to find a combination of networking that works well for StartUp Croydon. It is my belief that networking is a very individual thing – building relationships is key, probably more so than establishing new contacts, and finding the right group(s) is essential. Luckily, networking comes easily to me as I am very much “a people person”, but even if you have very little confidence, or fear the thought of socialising with complete strangers, the more you do it, the more your confidence will grow. Croydon networking in its entirety is very different from other London boroughs, and our business community is hugely enthusiastic about collaboration and supporting each other.
Mixed groups are as valuable to your business as all-female groups, but there is a difference in the way in which an all-female group interacts. At Ladies who Latte for instance, many of the attendees had their first experience of networking through the group, finding this a less intimidating way of entering the world of networking. These meetings are organised at a time that is convenient for women who have to juggle both family life and business, from 10.30am to 12.30pm. The session starts with an informal chat over coffee and pastries, similar to a normal get-together with a bunch of girlfriends. Then the format becomes more business-like as everyone gives their 60 second pitch, but often with others chipping in with suggestions or support and there is a real emphasis on problem solving, breaking down the barriers that may be holding us back and as women (often life and family related). There are also brainstorming and focus sessions that change every month to accommodate wider issues.
If you’ve never tried networking, or feel worried at the prospect of working outside of your comfort zone, I think you’ll find that there is a real difference with Ladies who Latte. Please click here for more information.
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