From PJs to shoulder pads – networking in post-COVID times

From PJs to shoulder pads - networking in post-COVID times
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Breaking barriers and building trust… over a pint of coffee or beer

In a world where our digital interactions can feel robotic, there’s something special about connecting with others in a casual setting. Networking fell out of favour for a while but now it is back. And it’s even more valuable.

Hello authenticity

We all have professional faces that can feel a little too tight sometimes. But in a cosy coffee shop or over a pint at a pub, those faces start to loosen up, revealing your real, unfiltered you.*

*I should add some small print here, a warning, drawing real-life examples from my past where I have possibly been too unfiltered, but I think I’ll keep those tales safely buried in the past – along with the bodies.

But socialising and networking is perfect for breaking barriers, encouraging open communication, and sharing experiences. The bonds you create over laughter and good company are strong.

COVID-19 – the unexpected socialising circuit breaker

Ah, COVID-19, the ultimate party pooper. It sent us all running for our sofas and PJs. But, it’s not too late to get back into the swing of it! The brave souls who socialise and network are often rewarded with better career opportunities, new connections, and maybe even a few new clients. After all, people buy from people they know, like, and trust – and a virtual meet-up can only do so much.

Unlocking new possibilities by stepping outside your comfort zone

Now, here’s a tale to inspire the scared. After months of lockdown hibernation, I decided to attend a 2-day conference with someone I knew ‘a bit’, accompanied by their friend. It was like stepping into the unknown – bold and slightly risky. But guess what? The unknown turned out to be an incredible world of opportunities. Both Ben and Justin became my mentors, guiding me through the maze of bossing my new business.

The Business Hub networking

Networking at The Business Hub event in May (credit: The Business Hub and Behind The Lens Media)

Reigniting the networking flame

With COVID-19 retreating to the wings, it’s time to reignite the networking flame.

So, here are my networking tips:

  • Say ‘yes’ to a few networking events and find ones that you feel a good fit for.
  • Don’t be afraid to admit to the event organiser that you’re a tad nervous about attending alone. They’ll help put you at ease and introduce you to others.
  • Bring a colleague or friend along – but don’t get stuck in a bubble of familiarity.
  • When break time hits, escape your comfort zone, and boldly introduce yourself to fellow networkers. Remember, they’re just as nervous as you.
  • Be brave, my friend. Walk into the room like you own it, with confidence radiating from every pore. Pat Butcher would be proud.
  • Can’t muster up the courage? Well, here’s a little secret – everyone else is feeling the same way!
  • It’s like a secret society of nerves, where we all pretend to be confident but secretly wondering if we come across like boiled eggs. So, go ahead and fake it till you make it. Often the ones who appear the bravest are often the ones who have perfected the art of faking it.
  • Don’t forget your trusty business cards! They’re like little calling cards of networking awesomeness. They’re back in fashion! Exchange cards with people you meet, and when you get home, follow each new contact up. A simple ‘it was nice to meet you’ can go a long way.

Meet me for a drink

Come to ‘Anti-Social’, the antidote to a long day at work. It’s all about after-work drinks and good vibes, held every third Thursday of the month, 5pm – 7pm, at HQ Urban Kitchen in Swansea.

Organised by myself and the lovely Tara from Urban Foundry.

Swing by whenever you please, stay as long as you like, and enjoy the friendly and supportive atmosphere.

Send me an email at [email protected] to sign up for a monthly reminder, and, if you’re feeling a little anxious, don’t worry – I’ll look after you.

Final words

Be brave, be authentic, and don’t forget to enjoy yourself. After all, life’s too short to take it all too seriously. Now go forth, mingle like a boss, and let the world witness the Pat Butcher within you!

Cheers!

PS I have also joined The Business Hub and Swansea Bay Business Club so come and say hello if you are part of those networks.

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