In a nutshell, there are TWO viable options right now: work flexibly for someone else or be your own boss. In our freelancing series, we talk about the advantages of returning to work vs. starting your own business, and in our flexibility series we talk about how you get started on the road to flexible work.
Whatever you choose, one of the important things that you should be doing is networking. Networking comes in many forms, but here are two of the most common ones: you can find local organisations that do regular meetups OR you can attend events, which are generally 1 to 3 days long, all day and packed with powerful speakers.
In the many years I’ve been in business, I’ve found both regular networking and events, whether virtual or live, very useful. What I love the most about events is that you can learn a lot in a short amount of time. I have found them to be a source of inspiration and over the years and I’ve connected with several like-minded people and learned a TON.
For many women, going to networking events can be daunting. Remember that Amy Porterfield quote “If you don’t have the confidence, grab the courage.” Whether you have the confidence or not, it doesn’t matter! By just taking that first step to register for the event you are moving forwards. You are doing something for you – investing in your future –which may be the catalyst you need in order to return to work with a flexible contract or start your own business flexibly around your other commitments.
The Confucius saying is very true: “Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember; involve me and I will understand.” When you attend an event, you are actively involving yourself, pushing yourself forward to meet new people and take in as much as you can from the speakers. Yes, reading books and blogs, listening to podcasts and joining Facebook groups are all great, but nothing beats listening to a live panel discussion and chatting with like-minded people (even if we can only do that online right now)!
We are all short on time, so it’s important to get prepared before an event. We’ve put together a few tips on how to get the most out of virtual and live events and conferences (when live events return, of course!).
Tip #1: Make an effort to meet people and really get to know them
Let’s face it if you’re not networking at an event, it’s not worth your while being there. Events are fantastic for making new contacts and growing your network.
Yes, networking! Did you shiver when you read that? You’re not the only one. It’s not always easy, sometimes it can be a tough crowd. However, you can meet really interesting people. Even if they are not a direct lead for your business, they may know someone. Referrals are great.
One tip when networking is to avoid the hard sell and instead ask plenty of questions about the other person’s business. Let’s face it, everyone enjoys talking about themselves! It’s a much more relaxing way to get to know someone. And in the process, you can work out if they would be a good potential client or not.
Tip #2: Practice your Magnetic One Liner
Sarah Lloyd-Hughes, who runs Game Changers, is one of my favourite people in the world. She is what I would call a ‘super connector’. Sarah believes very strongly in something called ‘Magnetic One Liners’, which is a fancy way of saying tell me in one explosive sentence what you do.
My favourite one liner from one of Sarah’s Game Changers events is from Cindy Hoots, the Global Vice President of IT for Unilver: “Leveraging technology to have a meaningful impact on the lives of 1 billion people.”
Sarah’s own Magnetic One Liner is: “Creating an army of game changing leaders who are a force for good on this planet.”
Think big. If you could do one thing in this world with your job or your business what would it be? Who would you advocate for? Who would you help? What impact will that have on your local community, your country, the world?
My Magnetic One Liner is that “I help women gain confidence with technology in order to find flexible work they love so they can positively impact future generations.” You might have to try it a few times but when you get it, repeat it until you know it by heart so that when people ask, you know exactly what to say.
Tip #3: Talk about the event on social media
Any good event should be managing their social media carefully to build awareness before, during and after the event. This is your chance to get to know in advance what’s coming up and confirm whether they’re using specific hashtags to promote the event. This means your networking can also start prior to the event. Start engaging with attendees who are connecting with the event’s social media activity. It’s a great ice breaker!
At the event itself, tweet away! You can help to amplify the key messages and it can be a great way to practice and showcase your social media skills. For example, you could live tweet during a particular panel discussion (post a picture and tag/mention the speakers and include a couple of key quotes). Instagram stories are another great way to document the fun, behind-the-scenes parts of the day. Don’t forget to use the mention and hasthag options on stories to let people know you are talking about them!
Tip #4: Blog about your experience afterwards
What better way to communicate to your market about what you have discovered at the event than by writing a blog about the event. It can be a great way to document your experience and key takeaways. You never know, the organisers and speakers might even promote it!
Don’t have a blog? No problem. LinkedIn is an excellent place to write articles and Facebook and Instagram both allow long-form posts. So post your write-up where you feel the most comfortable.
Looking for Flexible Work you love?
You probably already know how important it is to up your game when it comes to your tech skills. Come and see what we can do for you by joining our next CPD-Certified Social Media Supercharge training.
What if you could confidently boost your tech skills and be ready for flexible work? (Even if you feel like a tech dinosaur and don’t know where to start?)