two balls of wool chatting

As I am new to starting out in business by myself – and indeed new to blogging – I thought I would start both by talking about an event I have just been to where I learnt about networking and making connections with people – that is an important skill for both, right?

I actually happened upon this event whilst browsing the business start-up pages of the UK government’s website, in particular their business support finder page. You simply put in the details of what kind of business you are looking to run and where you are based and amazingly it provides you with a wealth of support resources that I probably would never have found otherwise.

I found that their setting up page is also a really useful content page of links to get you thinking about the different parts to starting out. Also worth mentioning is the information I was looking for in the first place which led me to their site – protecting intellectual property – a must-know topic for any business but especially for crafty peeps.

See what I did there? Connections! It’s all about the connections.

So, back to the event. The Blue Orchid organisation specialises in business start up support in the North West and news of the events they are holding is generally available here. Though they do not seem to have a lot of events in the future advertised on their site pages, not to be discouraged, I followed one of their past links for an event that looked interesting to their eventbrite booking page and that is much more up to date and choc-full of events. Alternatively, you can call or email them to find out about events, plenty of contact details available on their site!

As another slight aside, I have found eventbrite to be another excellent site for finding events to appeal to all aspects of your life. I feel a whole new world has been opened up to me!

I promptly booked myself onto the 30th April City Library Enterprise Network event, supported by Manchester City Council with Blue Orchid, which promised:

Meet other enterprising people and businesses in your area, share knowledge, and receive expert advice and information from speakers on a range of topics

and in particular for this session:

introduce you to the concepts of Networking so that you will have a clear idea of what it is and what it’s not

Exciting!

I then realised I had no business cards and 4 days to make that happen. I got there, but that journey deserves its own slot, so more to come later on developing business cards.

I went along to the event with a friend of mine, who is also looking to set out for themselves. It can be good to have a familiar face at these events, especially if it’s your first and you are a shy person, as you can face the unknown together, but as soon as I’d met a couple of people it was clear that I was in good company.

Unlike a couple of other events I had been to in the past, these were not the drones of faceless corporations; the hard sellers of hard business; the pompous event organisers who look at you quizzically, trying to understand why it is little, insignificant you that is here and not your boss; these were real people, trying to make a real go of it, exploring their dreams and seizing the day to try and make a difference to themselves and others. These people were My Kinda People.

We got refreshments and settled down to an excellent presentation from Gilli Bruce of  Gilli Bruce Training which was delivered with enthusiasm and a fair bit of audience participation. Some of the key items I took away were:

  • Network with a relationship mindset not a sales mindset
  • Focus on getting people to know, like and trust you
  • Remember that people know people who know people, so it’s worth taking the time with everyone you talk to even if you cannot directly benefit from a product or service they are providing
  • Actively listen and ask follow up questions – people like people who are interested in them
  • When promoting yourself, say something that appeals to each of the main decision making factors we all use –  what you know, what you love and what you do
  • Be your honest and true self

We then had the chance to practice our networking skills for around 45 minutes at the end of the session. It was really refreshing to meet people who were all working for themselves, most of whom were just starting out but a few who had been doing it for a while, and being able to talk about why we are starting out and the ideas and experiences we have had so far.

So,my words of advice are –  if you are um-ing and ah-ing about going to events, are worried that your business idea is not mature enough yet, or you are not sure if you can go and chat with random people who may have certain expectations of you, try to bite the bullet and go to an event designed for start-ups and talk to people in the same position as you. It can really give you a confidence boost and at least enforce your belief that starting out on your own can really happen if you put your mind to it.

I hope  you found my first post interesting and helpful and I’m glad to have made a connection with you!

Check back for more starting-out businessy ramblings as well as crafty posts of my creations as and when I get the chance to design them.