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A conversation over coffee with Origin Workspace

by Melissa

This week I’m going to be hosting an event as part of Origin Workspace’s Secrets of Business Success series, on ‘How to Become a more Confident and Effective Networker’ on Thursday 17 th May  at 40 Berkeley Square, Clifton, Bristol.

I had a coffee with Angela who is helping to…

This week I’m going to be hosting an event as part of Origin Workspace’s Secrets of Business Success series, on ‘How to Become a more Confident and Effective Networker’ on Thursday 17 th May  at 40 Berkeley Square, Clifton, Bristol.

I had a coffee with Angela who is helping to run the series as she wanted to find out more about me and why I thought we need to be paying attention when it comes to networking. Here’s how our conversation went:

 

Ange: Did you always know you wanted to work in the finance sector?

 

I never set out to work in this sector at all, it was far from what I was offering. My first business, Coaching Creatives, focussed solely on performance coaching within the creative industry: helping people to develop their confidence to pitch, present and build relationships with clients. I worked for agencies like Mason Zimbler, PamLloyd PR, Team Rubber plus ran events for Bristol Media. And although there’s a large creative industry in Bristol most of the work was in London – which didn’t really stack up financially.

 

So I had to rethink.

 

As a startup, I had little cash to invest in marketing so and recognised the value of networking – especially as I’m offering a service. But I really struggled and found it exhausting going to so many events that turned out to be not right for me.

 

I was a reluctant networker and hated going in to rooms of people I’d never met and I soon realised I wasn’t alone in feeling this way. There was a gap in the market for networking skills training. So I read lots of books, joined lots of groups and attended some training in London. Then took a deep breath and started running public workshops on Networking skills in Bristol.

 

Then one day, a member of staff from HSBC attended one of my networking workshops and soon returned for my second workshop: Make yourself Memorable with his manager to show him my work. This led to them approaching me to speak at their conference and subsequent others around the country. Since then the Chartered Insurance Institute found me on Linked In and asked me to come and speak at their event about networking skills. And I realised there was much more demand for my skills in the finance sector so I haven’t looked back.

 

I now run sessions on all sorts of things from challenging conversations, to negotiations, to influence and persuasion and client service.

 

Ange: Have you always been good at networking?

 

No – I was terrible at it! In the early days I made so many mistakes which is why I love teaching the subject because then people don’t need to repeat mine and end up in too many difficult awkward and frustrating situations!

 

Ange: Then how did you become a networking guru?

Well I wouldn’t quite use the term guru! But I have learnt a lot through preparation, passion and practice. And hard work. I have a background in psychology and an inquisitive nature: why do I find this so difficult given that I’m relatively sociable?

I realised that attending networking events taps into some of our core human fears such as rejection, failure and change. Once you understand those, you can do things to address them – which makes the process of attending networking events and building relationships much easier. And then I became interested in how our memory works and how we can communicate in such a way that things will be remembered and acted upon.

 

What makes a good networker?

 

We all have the ability to be great networkers – we’ve been building relationships since we were 2 years old, so much of it boils down to communicating and making people feel special.

 

Listening is a key skill – in fact I’ve just returned from a course run by a hostage negotiator as I was interested to find out how they listen when other people’s lives depend on it. Being interested and interesting are also important!

 

What’s been your biggest mistake at networking events?

 

Oh, there’ve been many! When I started out, I made lots of mistakes and I’d leave events thinking, “I really haven’t got anything out of that, or I don’t remember who I’ve met or why I might need them.” So, I started really assessing those people that I did remember from events and seeing what they did differently that made them memorable. This, along with my research and learning, helped me to create my
seven key principles to make yourself memorable that you can apply to your networking conversation. After all the “What do you do?” question is the one we’re asked the most. And how we answer it has a direct correlation to how successful we are when we’re at networking events.

 

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

 

Helping people to avoid some of the mistake that I made. Plus offering people guidance as to how communicate with others so that they build stronger deeper relationships.

 

Where does your passion come from?

 

A fundamental belief that good communication can improve the quality of our lives – be that inside and outside work.

 

Who inspires you?

So many people! Steve Jobs and Simon Sinek I think are great communicators.

 

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