This month’s meeting was split into three, our AGM and official WI business, networking and then a chance to put the networking skills into practice with our members’ market – Oktoberfest.
CLP summed up the year in pictures, went over the finances and introduced next year’s committee with faces old and new before broaching the topic of this month’s meeting –
It was clear that prior to the talk many members were perplexed by the very concept of networking. Of the people I talked to, some thought that it probably had something to do with selling, others about flagrant self-promotion. All confessed to a vague distrust of what they thought it was and were keen to hear what CLP had to say on the subject.
What is it?
It’s where you make meaningful connections with family, friends, colleagues, members of groups to which you belong… It entails meeting and getting to know people who you can help out, and who can sometimes help you out in return. In brief, it’s about forging genuine and lasting relationships which can be life-enhancing.
Why do it?
We all need other people.
‘No man (or woman) is an island’. Mutually beneficial, networking is fundamentally about sharing, not taking. It is about building up trust and helping one another out. By sharing with others you will find that others are more open to sharing with you.
It can help you come up with answers.
Networking can provide new insights to help you out with challenges. Others in your network can share experiences, as well as offer information and support, allowing you to come up with solutions that you would never have come up without their input.
It gets you noticed.
If you don’t tell people what you have to offer, they can’t be expected to know (mind readers apart). Similarly, if you don’t show an interest in others you might never get to know what they can do. Networking raises your profile and allows you to deepen your awareness of the skills that others have to offer. And you never know when you might need to call on these.
Networking opens doors and widens access to opportunities.
It allows you to expand your contacts and this can open doors to all sorts of new and exciting opportunities. This could help with not just career development but also personal growth and shared interests.
How do we do it?
This can be as simple as saying hello, shaking hands, introducing yourself, asking a question.The key is communication and we all have to start somewhere.
So, cue members. Time to network and put that theory into practice. Remember, networking is less to do with hierarchy and more to do with community so let’s strengthen ours now.
With over an hour of the meeting left to put the networking rules into play there was a sudden surge to the bar, but once alcoholically (or otherwise) armed, the entire group threw themselves into weaving a networking web so effective that by the end of the evening our heads were brim full of information about the women around us.
This included discovering some of the very special passions and talents of our stallholders.
Oktoberfest Member’s Market
Jemima Lumley – jewellery and decorative pieces
Bev Ballon – personalised letters
Kerry Postle – assorted crafts
Kate Jackson – quince jelly and raising awareness of Nepal charity
Catherine Debley – neck massage
Rachel Ashley – Cakes for Kids Bristol, baking for families who can’t provide birthday cakes for their children. Looking to raise awareness and recruit a few more bakers.
Jenny Sanderson – Play in various guises. In the woods, on the streets, anytime.
Athene String Quartet – Hire a live string quartet for your special occasions.
Stella & Dot – Have a trunk show at your house where you can buy some of the gorgeous jewellery.