As I sit on the tube writing this after what was my 3rd networking event off the week, I realised that networking is one of the most valuable spends off my time in terms of return, and not just in monetary terms.
Networking is free most of the time. It is full of like minded individuals and if you go to the right ones it is full of people that you can work with or learn from in some way.
Again you do get the odd events where people just end up trying to sell to, but I'm glad to say I'm coming across these less and less.
The more social these networking events the better, they provide a laid back atmosphere to chat with similar people and these informal chats often lead to many opportunities and potential ways you can work together.
What's better is that face to face networking events create better lasting impressions in the minds of people you meet. I mean, ultimately it's not about who you know, but rather who knows you, right?
This can always lead to future opportunities for both parties, in terms of help, advice and business. It can also motivate you go further, take the plunge into starting your own business or just expand you industry knowledge.
After networking events make sure to stay connected with those that you met. Take a look at the business cards you received and email those that you met while what you spoke about is still fresh in your mind.
You may feel you are to busy to attend these events, but they act as a nice break from being stuck in front of a computer and they can count as being work as you are inevitably spreading the name of your business, across an audience that can provide value to your business and it is a great chance to learn something and get ideas.
You will see the value in forming and maintaining a strong contact base which will serve you well for years to come.
There are many really strong startup communities around the world now and in times of economic uncertainty I truly believe that these communities have helped each startups progress in this period which can be challenging for many.
As a member of the marketing team at Huddle and co founder of YHP, I am pleased to say I am a part of two of the best networking events in London which are joined by two of the three I have been too this week.
DrinkTank is one. The tech meetup organised by Huddle and was started by the founders a few years ago after going to way too many networking events full of consultants trying to sell there services. This event was made a strictly members only event, all applications are vetted to ensure we don't get spammers (look out for the next event soon).
YHP Connect on the other hand offers a smaller number of people the chance to come together and network in a relaxed social atmosphere with talks by entrepreneurs, who have been successful, discussing the journey they took and problems they overcame. With a smaller group the Q&A session becomes more useful and everyone gets a chance to talk with each other and the speakers.
Remember networking events give you the chance too relax and socialise for a few hours in what is a time when working on your startup can include working long into the night. And better still, it counts as work.
Your are marketing your business, your marketing yourself and best of all you are creating connections.
These events are all about mutual benefits. How can you offer a service or help another? Because there will be a time when you may need help or advice and you will want to have built a strong network.
There is a reason why many angels and VC's insist on startups with a co founder and its because the majority of the time 2 is better than 1. And guess what, this scales. The knowledge and help of a community will pay dividend.
Your net worth is only as good as your network.
The Importance of Networking