Friday, last week, saw me venture into the big old world of............networking!!
When you feel like a small fish in an extremely large pond, it is particularly nerve-wracking to walk into a room of people you don't know. I try not to worry about what others think, life is too short, but first impressions count, especially when you are running a business.
Any of these sound like you?
What do I wear?
What if I say the wrong thing? (I can have a bit of a warped sense of humour)
What if I sound stupid?
What if I am late?
What if I get lost?
What if they think my business idea is silly?
oh the list goes on......what if.........what if.......what if?
So, what if you could go to a networking group that has moved away from the traditional money orientated, referral based events?
What if you could meet people who are just like you, who are starting a new business and balancing family responsibilities?
What if you could meet friendly people who readily give great advice based on their experience and expertise, who don't judge you because they are in that same position?
What if you could also take your children with you?! (yes, you read that right)
What if it was free?!
Networking Mummies was founded in Dorset five years ago by two ladies, Stacey Calder and Laura Morris. There are now branches appearing across the UK, one of which is the North Dorset Branch run by the very lovely Rosie Mead. Rosie runs her own company Musica, which provides music workshops for all ages, in the community and health care settings. Her company has been so successful, she also has a team of franchises throughout the UK. Rosie is using her business experience to help others, and as a mum herself, she understands how hard to can really be.
Rosie knew how to keep the conversation flowing and had arranged for two ladies, Kay and Verity, from Weldmar, to come and chat to us about their work in the community. This was incrediably informative and I personally learnt more about Weldmar and the services they provide in those 20 minutes than I ever knew before. Life-limiting illnesses impact the patient, family and friends so please check out Weldmar here. Unfortunately, we will all know someone who will benefit from Weldmar. An invaluable service such as this needs to shared with everyone.
On this particular occasion, the networking flowed into a course dedicated to all the legalities, financial considerations and marketing ideas of starting and running a business. The courses vary (the next one is on Social Media) and are very affordable. Although I have been running a business for 5 years now, it's helpful to have fresh eyes look at your business, sometimes they pick up on small things that are very obvious but difficult to see when you are so emotionally attached to your work.
As we are all parents and all running a business, conversation often reverted to sharing our personal experiences on how we manage both, or in some cases how we don't feel like we are managing anything!
Being a business owner is no easy task and neither is raising a family. Being able to share your fears, troubles, successes and victories with people just like you is fantastic, rather than feeling like you are going it alone.
Have you been to a networking event? How did you feel before? Would you go again? I'd love to hear about your experiences. You can leave a comment below.
If you have a business, or are in the stages of starting one, check out Networking Mummies North Dorset.
Written by Rachel Bryant of Rachel Bryant Commercial Photography
Follow on Facebook here
Follow on Twitter here