Firstly, what do you mean by "networking"?
Networking is when you expand your group of contacts in order to get more business. The most reliable way of increasing your business is always through word-of-mouth. Put simply, people like to do business with a person who has been recommended to them by someone they trust. We have a large number of diverse businesses and skills in LCV, and a fantastic group of people as well, so it makes sense to make use of those skills, and spread the word about who does what. It's become unfashionable to ask "what do you do for a living?" these days - not so in networking - it's the whole point! Again, put simply, if you need more work, or more clients, come along. You never know who you will meet. Feel free to bring friends or colleagues if you think it's something that they would benefit from.
Should I come?
If you are need more clients, or a new job, or are looking for a particular service yourself, then you should. Or if you're just interested to find out what people in the choir do, because you never know when that might come in useful, then you should as well.
What will happen?
We'll have "open networking" (i.e. chatting) for about 30-45 minutes, then we'll get a little bit more formal. Basically, prepare a very short (about a minute) bio about what you do and what sort of clients you are looking for. The key here is not to sell to the room, but educate the people in the room about what it is you do and who you want as clients. We will go around the room and make sure everyone gets a chance to say what they want to say (but please keep it brief!), then I'll say something (I'll keep it brief too), then we will go around the room again and if you have any referrals or ideas for someone, that will be your chance to say them. If not, you can just say something positive like "I really enjoyed that" and that's that. There's no pressure to feel you have to bring business - the point of this is that hopefully business will come out of it as a natural course of events. We'll then have some more informal networking so that you can catch up with the people that you thought could either be good contacts for you, or that you could help.
After the event, we will publish a table with the contact details of everyone who attended, what they do and what clients they are looking for. We will send that out via this list, which currently has over 600 people on it.
What do I need to prepare?
Ideally, a short (1-2 minute) "elevator pitch" (i.e. if you were stuck in a lift with the person who could make it all happen for you, how would you introduce your business?) saying what it is you do, and what sort of people you are looking to be introduced to. We will take notes and circulate the details of what it is that you do to everyone on the mailing list (now over 900!). Please bring some business cards or your contact details to give out to people who might be interested in what you do. Feel free to use visual examples, i.e. if you are a photographer, some examples of your work would be good...
Also, if you come with the attitude of "what can I bring to this meeting? what contacts will be useful for that person?", you will find that you get so much more out of it than if you have the "what can I get from this meeting?" mentality.
Does it cost anything?
Not this time, and not at all if you're a paid-up member of LCV. You can bring guests if you like for free this time, but there may be a small charge for them in future meetings (£10-15).
Does networking work?
In short, yes. I've been doing it for years, and I can testify that word-of-mouth is how I have built London City Voices, which has quadrupled in size in a year. Several people have already got business from LCV - it can only be a good thing. Come along and see what happens. We have some really interesting professions on board.
- Don't focus on yourself too much. When you speak to someone, think about if you have any friends or family who might need their services.
- Keep your pitch short and to the point. Feel free to give an anecdote of what you do for people, but the important things to include are who you are, what you do, and what you are looking for.
- Ask for business cards - you'll find that people will want yours too (so bring some!)
Example pitch from me
Hi there, my name is Richard Swan, and as you know, I'm a musician. All of you know about London City Voices, because you're in it, but what you might not know is that I also run a fantastic covers band called Cornucopia (our website is being updated so here's a link to us on YouTube instead). We play at weddings, corporate events, Christmas parties... pretty much any celebration you can think of. We have the usual list of people we've played for, GSK, BP, Coca-Cola, etc, but what you really need to know is that we sound fantastic - most of our work comes from people who have seen us at other events. We can play jazz, soul, funk, disco, rock - whatever you like, and our repertoire covers classic songs and modern chart hits too. I am particularly looking for the following: people who are planning a wedding, people who are planning a special birthday party, people who are in charge of (or influential in planning) their company's Christmas party Do you know someone like that? If so, refer them to me, Richard Swan from Cornucopia.
That's the idea. It doesn't have to be as long as that, or it could be a little longer... but not much.