I cannot believe that I attended my first networking event a month ago today. How time flies! I know many people are scared to attend networking events, and let me tell you…
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
I was SO nervous when I booked my ticket to The Midweek Mingle (more on that in a moment). I knew I wouldn’t be able to convince any friends to come with me. I’d not long left my full-time employment and I needed to do something different and throw myself in the deep end. Out of my comfort zone.
I’ve been following the She Can. She Did. Instagram for some time now. I found I was watching and interacting with Fi’s (the founder’s) content more and more.
It just resonates!
And, I’d seen late last year that she was hosting networking events for female entrepreneurs called, The Midweek Mingle.
When I saw these events last year I was kind of gutted that I couldn’t really go. She was only hosting three events (and I don’t mean that like, rolling your eyes ‘ONLY THREE!’) You can tell how much work and effort was put into these events and I’m sure it’s no small task to host such an event. However, with the events being in London, Bristol and Manchester and on a midweek evening it would’ve been a big task to get there on time after a day at work.
Anyway, this time last month, I was working on building my own website whilst I was trying to work out what to do with my time and how I could generate an income.
So I thought, hey, why not!?
The ticket to The Midweek Mingle cost £20. Cheap as chips given the sneak peek of the goody bags Fi showcased on her Instagram stories! However, as someone who was fresh out of full-time employment and watching every penny I spent, it did take me a few hours to decide if I should go. You see, living in between Peterborough and Huntingdon I need to consider getting to and from the train station, the train ticket, the tube cost, all on top of the cost of the ticket.
To some, it may not seem a lot. I think it’s fair to say I’m quite frugal and I definitely like to keep an eye on my bank balance!
Anyway, after reading all about the previous She Can. She Did. Networking events, I decided to give it a go.
Eeeek! My first networking event.
I felt pretty chuffed with myself. Pushing myself to do something I’d never done before.
As the next week went by I saw people mention in their stories that they’d be attending; Fi gave everyone a sneak peek at the goody bags (I’ll reveal all soon), and yet I could feel my nerves getting stronger and stronger. I was starting to realise that I’m going to have to walk into a room full of, probably majorly successful women, all by myself. I don’t know anyone.
The day of my first networking event finally arrived. Thursday 7th March 2019. The day before International Women’s Day. The event was due to start at 6:30pm and finish at 9pm.
I managed to get a lift to the station from my Mum (thanks Mum!) and had decided to head into London early. I hate rushing around and the thought of rushing to get a train into London and then across town in the middle of rush hour, ergh. No thanks!
So I travelled down around 2pm. I hopped off the train and walked to meet my Dad on New Cavendish Street.
After a quick tour of his current project (he’s a project manager), I headed off to find some sights of London I’ve never seen before. How I’ll never know! I ended up walking down to Burlington Arcade. What a beautiful place! But my gosh isn’t there a lot of money there haha!
Anyway… the event.
It turned out that I didn’t plan too well and I felt like I had to rush. When in fact I didn’t. I checked the Eventbrite page and all I could see was a postcode. Luckily I’d visited that part of town quite a lot recently so had an idea where I was going. However, I didn’t know exactly where I was going. After stopping, in the pouring rain under some shelter, luckily so did another lady.
We both looked as lost as each other.
I was going to have to talk to strangers all night, so why not start now? What did I have to lose?
“Excuse me, I don’t suppose you’re going to a networking event are you?”
“Yeah, I am! The Midweek Mingle?”
After a couple of minutes of looking a bit silly, we found it! Hurray! And we were 15 minutes early.
After walking in feeling very anxious and very out of place, I had a sudden rush of… confidence, maybe?
Right then I had a thought…
This is my first networking event. EVER!
I don’t know anyone. And they don’t know me. I’ve paid to be here. And I can sit in the back and be shy and timid and not talk to anyone.
I can fully chuck myself in and get involved. Because at the end of the day, I may never see these people again. I may make some business friends. I wasn’t going to know until I tried.
So I did.
I walked straight up and started talking to the first person I came across, which strangely, happened to be Fi! She asked me who I’d come with. The second I said, “no one, all on my own…” she threw her arms around me and thanked me for coming, even though she knew what it felt like.
She automatically introduced me to Katie Anderson. Katie got chatting with me straight away and made me feel completely at ease. Little did I know Katie was one of the four amazing business women on the panel that evening! But my, what a woman! (Side note: go and check her out she’s the Female Farmer UK– definitely a job I could not do!)
More and more people started to arrive. I quickly grabbed one of the complementary gin & tonics (a drink that I’m not normally a fan of, but I’d pretty much lost all of the saliva from my mouth by this point!) and got chatting to three lovely ladies. Then we were called to take our seats. Little did I realise just how cool the goody bags on my chair was going to be! (There are pictures of everything included at the end of this post. Nosey!)
We had about 45 minutes – an hour listening to Fi ask these 4 bloody brilliant businesswomen questions.
There was so much laughter. So much that was relatable. And so many takeaways.
Like, everyone’s going through the same thing!
When you work alone it’s easy to feel like the world is crashing down on you and no one could possibly understand.
I was sat in a room with 100 other women and they ALL understood.
The four amazing ladies on the panel were;
- Anna Ward, Founder of CakeDrop
- Katie Anderson, Female Farmer UK and Founder of Muddy Boots Farm and Paddlesworth Produce
- Jana Pavasovic, Co-Founder of The Completist
- Emily Somers, Founder of BraveryCo
Once the panel was over, Fi invited us all to grab a drink and get chatting to each other. I met some amazing ladies there that night. One even gave me a theoretical kick up the bum.
“Just start. Something. It’ll come to you once you start.”
As people shuffled along to try and talk to as many people as they could, I found myself almost stood on my own. Crap. What now?
I walked towards two women stood looking around. I walked up and without even thinking out came, “Hi thought I’d come introduce myself.”
Wow. Where did that come from?
They both laughed and said they loved the approach. We got talking, found out we’re all in very similar industries, aka digital marketing. Swapped Instagram handles and then, crap! I need to get back to Kings Cross to get my train.
I darted off without really saying goodbye to anyone apart from the two women I was stood with and powerwalked back to Camden tube station.
Luckily, I got there with 10 minutes to spare, but the next train heading to Huntingdon was going from St. Pancras. Let me tell you, that is a loooooong station to powerwalk through!
But I arrived and had time to sit on the bench and ponder through my goody bag.
So my honest review of my first networking event;
- If you’re thinking about attending your first networking event, just do it! It’s highly unlikely you’ll regret it. Plus, if you make a fool of yourself,
- A. Everyone does at some point!
- B. Even if you think you did, it’s highly unlikely people will remember anyway.
- C. You may never see those people again!
- And lastly, D. It’s highly likely that a lot of people in that room feel exactly the same way as you do. Think of what would happen if you DON’T go. Nothing.
- I probably spoke to 8 ladies that night, and each of them gave me something. Whether it was encouragement, an idea or a business card. It got me thinking and more importantly, taking action.
- If you’re a female entrepreneur, when Fi decides to host more Midweek Mingles, I would encourage you to get yourself a ticket and get there. I’ll definitely be going to another one!
- I feel like, even though I didn’t get any business or whatever, I made that first step and I overcame my fear of doing stuff like that on my own. One step at a time.
So there you have it…
What was your first networking event like? D you have any tips for anyone looking to attend their first networking event? Leave a comment below and help each other out!
Until next time,