Today I attended my very first networking event. I don’t mind telling you that it was a pretty daunting prospect going to an event where I knew absolutely nobody and for all intents and purposes I would be alone at. If nothing else I was worried about walking into people with my white cane and potentially embarrassing myself. But I am pleased to say that I didn’t in fact do my human cannon ball impression and I seemed to be well received.
There were around 40 people in attendance representing all sorts of businesses ranging from a vehicle leasing firm to a national insolvency company. The event was run by the Milton Keynes Chamber of Commerce and was hosted at The Brasserie in Bletchley College. Delegates were treated to a three course lunch prepared by the colleges catering students and I have to say that the food was superb.
The format of the event basically meant that all delegates got to interact with two thirds of the attendees, which for me was great. There was perhaps fifteen minutes or so to stand and chat before the lunch was served. Then everybody took their seats around one of four tables and got to exchange business cards with those present before giving a brief introduction about themselves to the table as a whole. From that point on and for the remainder of the course (around 20 minutes per course) everybody was able to chat and make connections with whoever they wished to around the table. For me this was fantastic as it removed the awkwardness of me potentially barging in on others conversations as well as eliminating any possibility of collisions as I tried to navigate around. The same process was repeated for each of the three courses and by the end everybody was sporting bulging pockets or handbags from the number of business cards stuffed into them.
Finally two business cards were randomly selected from those that had been dropped into a box as each delegate had entered the Brasserie. The owners of the cards were given the opportunity to deliver a five minute talk about what their business/company is about and what they offer. I thought this too was an excellent touch.
All in all I felt it was a very well organised and thoroughly worthwhile experience. I feel that I have made a few good connections that may result in further networking opportunities or even some work.
The Jaffa Cake cheesecake wasn’t half bad either!