Network to nab work?

April 3 2009

Most of the people I know who’ve had career trajectories similar to mine are very good at networking. Meeting new people and plumbing them for information is an essential skill for any writer/journalist. I don’t know – and I could be wrong – if any of them actually formalise the process though.

We’re generally a bit too cynical for that.

I spotted a write up in the local paper this week, though, for an outfit called BNI. It’s an American business networking organisation which works via local chapters to promote business referals between its members. So for example, I’m chatting to you in the pub and you mention you need a mechanic/accountant/lawyer/gardener/tree climbing expert (I jest not on the latter – the man with the coolest job in the local group here organises tree climbing expeditions for children’s parties and corporates), I mention that I happen to know one and should I ask him/her to give you a call.

This sort of thing is usually an anathema to me – the rigid structure to the meetings, the NLP-style public demonstrations of usefulness to the group push all the wrong buttons. However, as someone who’s lived in the West Country for most of my adult life and still answers the question ‘Do you know a good mechanic/accountant/lawyer/gardener/tree climbing expert?’ with a blank expression I’m drawn to the idea of actually getting to know the local community a bit better. I still have no idea how long we’ll stay where we are, but if Tabby leaves High School and I’m still not on first name terms with at least one plumber, I’ll feel like I’ve failed something or other.

Then there’s the fact that Steve from LearnAsOne went to a charity networking event last week and got tons of useful stuff from it. I’m beginning to mellow to the idea.

More to the point, it was amazing how many people I spoke to over a bleary eyed coffee that said ‘Ah – a copywriter. I must talk to you at some point’. As Tamsin has now gone freelance too, it could be a very useful tool for expanding our empire. And we’ll know someone who knows about mortgages if we ever decide to buy a house.

I also like the fact that most business networking sites look like this…

The cheesemaking business

The cheesemaking business network

While BNI look like this…

These people do not inspire fear

These people do not inspire fear

There’s a joining cost, natch, but it’s not much and would pay for itself in a couple of contracts. The question is do I want to get up at 6am every Friday morning…

April 6 2009 @ 15:15

Yes indeed, come and join us

April 6 2009 @ 17:48

I agree… how did I miss that photo opportunity?

April 6 2009 @ 18:51

Sorry, I just have to disagree with you about tree climbing being the coolest BNI occupation. Have you ever spent a day photographic a gorgeous model? :o)

April 6 2009 @ 21:54

Heh – many times, back in my magazine editing days. Have to say that after a while, I’d rather be climbing trees :)

April 8 2009 @ 19:34

Don’t you believe it, not scary – John Dickens scariest man behind the wheel of a Ford Capri I have ever seen! Then you want to see his ape impressions during the education spot. Your lucky you missed it the therapy is going to cost me loads!

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