When I first started in business, the idea of networking gave me the chills. I kid you not! My brain was filled with images of dudes in stuffy suits, shaking hands, and talking all business and finance whilst drinking a martini (ok maybe that was James Bond??) so I shied away from it because that was totally not me at all!
I was also a lot more shy than I am now, and far less confident in my abilities as an entrepreneur.
But one day, I saw posted in one of the business pages, about an event for female small business owners, which promised to be welcoming, kind and inclusive – and no suits necessary! I bravely bought a ticket and went along. When time came for my little intro I mumbled and stumbled, and embarrassingly blurted out I was a photographer – I forgot to say my name, and worse, my business name!! Not a very good networker at all! But I did feel welcomed, and so continued to go to the monthly events – my little spiel improved and guess what, I made friends, and connections, and eventually I got work!
Some of the work has taken years to manifest itself, others happened quickly, but it did come, and it was great to work with these people because we actually already knew each other and felt comfortable in each other’s presence.
Since then, I have been to a number of different networking events locally and online, and for the most part have found myself accepted and welcomed – I am still not that outgoing person you might think I am, especially in a room full of strangers, but I have also made amazing lifelong friends and been part of incredible communities! So, I thought I would share with you some of the lovely local networking events in Lincolnshire & Newark that I have been to and enjoyed – with the hopes that you will find that community too:
This one is by far one of my favourites! Full of wonderful creative women, good food and lots of laughs! Started up by a photographer friend of mine, Emma, the owner of Co. Club in Fen Farm, Jo, and virtual assistant extraordinaire Jen, this has become my go to monthly event, and I have met some insanely talented people here, and the food is just yum!
I have only managed to go to a handful of these meetups, which take place in the evenings. Evenings are a bit harder for me, but I can manage a few a year! It is a small community but slowly and steadily growing, and I truly can’t wait to see where it goes next! They also have a facebook group if you want to join. I believe there is also a Newark meet up, but I’m not sure
I met Marie during that first networking event that I mentioned above, and, although that event is no longer happening, I am still in contact with so many of those amazing ladies. During lockdown, Marie pivoted from her sign painting business and started her own online networking group: Mee & You. It is a lovely community, and during lockdown, it was great to see and hear so many incredible people – and I have had the pleasure of working with so many of them too! And now that lockdown is over and things are back to normal, Marie is also organising in-person events, and there are lots of laughs to be had.
Run by the University of Lincoln, Productivity hubs is much more than just networking – it is concrete support for Lincolnshire-based business owners. You get free help from Gary and his team as well as lots of training, and a helping hand to keep you in line! I was so lucky to have Gary work with me, and recommend the hubs to everyone! What’s more, even when you finish your time with them, Gary and the team still invite you to training and networking events, so you never truly leave the community. I would highly recommend applying to any small business out there!
Now I have only managed to go to one of these, but I did have a great time, and it was a very cool community! Started up by Jess from Prikli Pear, this is the “networking” event for creative crafters. The idea is wonderful – bring a project you are working on, have some drinks and food and chat up a storm about anything. It isn’t just business networking but creative networking and that is what makes it so different.
I know there are so many different networking events out there, and I have barely scraped the surface, but just maybe, this will help inspire you to take that first step into the world of networking – who knows what might come out of it!?
Tags: networking Lincoln, Lincoln branding photographer, productivity hubs Lincoln, small business Lincolnshire