Listen, learn and go to the library

Library shelvesIn December, I once again dipped my toe into the waters of business networking. This time at an informal lunch at Basepoint Camberley.

As a writer, I do a sizeable amount of research. Some of it online, some using my own collection of books, and some gathered from trips to my local libraries. Of course, I’m usually in search of information on certain subjects.

Love your library

A quick word here in support of the local library. Use it or lose it. Libraries are a wonderful free resource we take for granted. If you haven’t visited your nearest library for a while, you’ll be surprised at the range of materials you can borrow such as audio books, CDs, and DVDs.

They have a useful online facility for ordering and renewing. The link here will take you to Hampshire Libraries homepage. Why not visit your local library, and check out what they have to offer.

Learn to listen

What I get from networking is information I didn’t know I was looking for. As I mentioned in my post, Do local business networking events work? the life of a writer can occasionally become too insular.

In order to get a fresh perspective, it’s helpful to meet strangers from other industries. Different backgrounds can cause people to come at things from diverse and sometimes opposing angles.

Opinions and viewpoints reveal themselves much faster in face-to-face conversations. If you open your mind to new ideas, and try to overcome inbuilt prejudices or bias towards certain ways of thinking, you can come away with some fresh initiatives.

I’ve found that to get the most out of these events you should take a step back from trying to sell your own service. Instead, spend more time listening than talking.

Occasionally, you can be presented with an idea so obvious you’re inwardly kicking yourself that it hasn’t occurred to you before. Other times the flash of inspiration is triggered by something more subtle. An approach that someone else has taken that you realise you can adapt to suit your own situation.

People are generally supportive and keen to offer advice based on their experiences. I’ve found other freelancers and small businesses to be incredibly generous in sharing their knowledge. And honest enough to admit what's worked and what hasn’t. So you can learn from their mistakes as well as their successes.

In summary, approach business networking with the right attitude. Yes, go there to sell, but also be prepared to share.

Related post: Do local business networking events work?

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