How do I start networking?

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I am looking to starting networking and I wondered if anyone had any advice on how I can get started? any groups I can join?  I live in London

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I have been networking with the Athena Network (females only) and it has been invaluable for my business. I agree with Suzi that it is about relationship building and finding out about others. Don’t see it as a chance to talk (solely) but as a chance to also listen. Build your network of contacts, add value and be memorable. The Bob Burg series of books (including Endless Referrals) covers off networking very well. Worth a read.

In terms of events to go to, I recommend starting with your local Chamber of Commerce and your local branch of the FSB. Then look at female only ones if they apply (The Athena Network) as well as industry specific ones like the IoD, CIPD, CIM etc. There are many of groups out there so visit a few and see what is right for you in terms of formality, time of day, price, target audience and so on. Good luck!

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Networking can be daunting, even if you’re a really sociable person who enjoys going to events.  You may think it’s all about selling yourself, but actually it’s more about discovering what everyone else does. That’s how I first approached networking.  The thought of introducing myself to a complete stranger and trying to ‘sell’ my services filled me with dread.

It’s much easier to walk in, grab a drink and find a friendly looking face.  Then walk right up and join in the conversation, and ask them what they do.  You’ll feel less nervous talking about your business if someone else has asked you first.

If you’re London based I can recommend Urbano Networks.  They’re a really diverse group, lots of support and the events are really good.  If you’re a female founder or startup, take a look at Blooming Founders.  Very supportive and they also have hotdesking space too.

Don’t forget to check out any local networking opportunities.  Having a great support network on your doorstep can be invaluable.  It can be really lonely when you start out, and you never know what collaborations and friendships can be forged.

Good luck!

Suzi

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