Do local business networking events work?

Business cardsLast month, I dipped my toe into the waters of business networking events. A couple of local networking groups had been recommended to me, so I went along in search of fellow Fleet and Farnborough traders.

Coffee and Connect

First up, was Coffee and Connect, which has recently moved to a new venue at The Elvetham, between Fleet and Hartley Wintney.

What’s not to like about this one. For £5, you get great coffee and delicious pastries in a stunning venue. Over 40 people turned up and, seated in a circle, each person said a few words about themselves and their business. As you can imagine, this easily took up the first hour. There was a mixture of sole traders, freelancers, plus representatives from local companies.

The second hour was informal chatting; leaflets and cards could be left on a table in the corner for people to pick up. Everyone was friendly, and I had some interesting conversations and made some valuable contacts. As it was a beautiful morning, I was also able to indulge my passion for gardens and wander around the grounds of The Elvetham.

A few people said to me that to get the most out of these events you need to attend regularly. Due to workload, it’s not possible for me to go every month. However, it was an enjoyable and productive morning, and I may venture along again.

Hampshire Chamber of Commerce

Next up, I attended a ‘Pure Networking’ event at Princes Hall in Aldershot held by the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce. I hadn’t been given any information prior to this event by the organisers, so I was a little unprepared when I found we were all expected to pitch to the room, table by table.

The event was focused and well organised. Each person was given a few minutes to talk about their business to the five or six people on their table before moving on to repeat their talk at the next table.

I found both of these events useful for honing my presentation skills and discovering what people know or don’t know about copywriting. Many of those I spoke to were familiar with what a copywriter has to offer and had already worked with them on various projects. Others had never employed the services of a copywriter before and wanted to find out what copywriting could do for them.

The individuals who were unfamiliar with copywriting gave me some constructive insights. From the questions I was asked, I could see which aspects of the copywriting process needed further clarification. Plus, I had some enquiries for using copy in scenarios and industries that I’ve never come across before.

The million-dollar question

Did I get any work out of going to these events? Yes, I did. So they were worth it for that reason. Also, writing can be a solitary and insular occupation and events like these are beneficial simply for finding out who’s doing what out there. It’s helpful to meet fellow freelancers and see the diverse range of business ideas people come up with.

On the other hand, there are an awful lot of these events going on in this area; therefore, you need to be selective. The ones I tried were based on personal recommendations. I can’t help feeling there would be a certain number of familiar faces and repetition if you attended the same events too frequently. That said, this is a field that’s new to me, and I need to investigate further before I can comment with any authority.

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