Reflections on the ‘speed dating’ approach to business networking

Old Gate, Market Street, Hebden Bridge.

Old Gate, Market Street, Hebden Bridge.

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Networking events are not a new idea and they are not rocket science.

In a nutshell they are an opportunity for business people to meet other business people, build relationships and help mutually grow their businesses.

This is done through gaining trust over time and not simply saying “my name is… I run a business selling….. and I want you to buy one….”

Having recently set up a new recruitment agency in Calderdale I was keen to attend a number of these networking events to start growing my local network of contacts.

Obviously, picking up a few vacancies would be fantastic, but for me it was more important to learn more about some of the other businesses in the area.

One of the best networking events I have attended was held on September 23 at the Old Gate Bar and Restaurant in Hebden Bridge. 
It was run by The Hebden Bridge Business Forum (@hbbusinessform). The format was entirely different to any other event that I have attended.

This meeting was run in a speed dating type fashion, a really refreshing change.

Yes, it was noisy and at times and difficult to hear everything that was being said. It was however a great way of talking to a number of different business owners for a fixed amount of time before moving

on.

Of course there was time at the end to speak to those who were of particular interest.

Personally I learnt that in our very own Calderdale we had a company producing bespoke after market accessories for Land Rover Defenders, Mudstuff.co.uk, not a business I was aware of but then I’m not a Land Rover Fan.

I also learnt we had a fantastic homemade jewellery business on our door step, yuju.co.uk, an independent travel agent booking business travel @TCLouiseHunt, a new digital agency that set up 6 months ago who are now doing fantastic things with a host of household names (@ayupdigital)

Of course I met many other business’s, sadly far too many to list, some of those will be useful for me to use as suppliers, some of which may become clients fingers crossed.

This was done in a relaxed environment where I was made to feel welcome and because of the format, I did not feel I was interrupting any conversations.

If you are a person who is a little on the shy side, walking into a room of strangers who are involved in private conversations can be quite a daunting thought, and I have no doubt that many business owners would shy away.

My advice would be to bite the bullet and go along anyway. I guarantee you will be one of many people who are will feeling exactly the same way. You are going to drive your business in the same way as everyone else who is there.

If you still think it will be hard, speak to @Henriettabond, a personal coach I met at the event who would doubtless be able to set you on the right track.

For more information about this networking event contact search on Facebook for The Hebden Bridge Business forum.

About the writer:

Richard Powell is The Managing Director of Bright Leaf People, a recruitment agency specialising in sales, finance, admin and insurance roles across Calderdale.

www.brightleafpeople.com

Twitter @BrightLeafPeopl

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