Don’t you love it when you get together with people you trust and can just be yourself? You can just talk and not worry about what you’re saying or how they’re interpreting you. Or what about when you’re at a cocktail party and you just don’t want to talk to anyone? Or you just want to hide in a corner of the room? Or better still… go home.

This week we launched ‘Flourish’, Females in Food networking event for women in the Food and Beverage industry, because we know what it’s like to feel like a fish out of water at networking events. They say networking is good for business so our events will always encourage you to connect with another and we make sure it’s easy by inviting thought provoking guest speakers, having the event in interesting venues and ensuring the atmosphere is just right.  After all, we’re all in this together, as like-minded women in the F&B industry.

No random networking here, we’re creating a hospitable and relevant environment just for you, to connect; share ideas; and take the risk you’ve always wanted to take.

We know you want to be inspired by women who’ve gone before you and we know getting the right information, at the right time, is paramount.

Confident networkers have a real advantage. Opportunities and key connections often come from the unlikely conversation you have at a Christmas party or the networking event you really didn’t want to go to in the first place. We know it can be easier said than done, so we’ve built a list of suggestions to help you relax into networking, because as Christine Manfield said at ‘Flourish’, “I can’t stress enough the importance of connecting women in business to resources, insights [and] to expertise. It’s a growth industry”.

Suggestions for how to be a successful networker

  1. Effective networking starts before you arrive at the event. Set yourself a measure for success and while at the event manage your time and stick to your goal. That way, you’ll be sure to get what you need.
  2. Throughout the event, maintain a positive attitude. Small groups of 1-2 people are easier to engage. When you’re approaching them offer a smile or a confident handshake. As with all interactions, first impressions matter.
  3. Avoid the temptation of getting comfortable with friends. The opportunity to improve your network can pass you by. Pre-prepare a conversation starter and ender as it makes it easier to back out of a conversation without offending anyone.
  4. Once you have made some connections at the party (or if you are attending the party with a friend), ask if they will introduce you to new people. It’s much easier to get talking once you have a mutual connection.
  5. Finally, position yourself near the bar (we like this one!). Hanging around the food and drinks is an easy way to get introduced. You’ll find approaching someone in this way can be less confronting.

We know how busy you are, so you may not have the time to be networking over the festive season, but hopefully these suggestions will help you make the most of networking opportunities on other occasions. We’re building an #empoweredcollective , so maintain a positive attitude, utilise your connections and strive to achieve what you set out to do at your next event.

We’d love to hear of your experiences of networking. Good, bad and indifferent. Post your comments on our Facebook page here.

For those wanting to join the VIP member conversation behind closed doors, or give the gift of membership to a friend, email us here and we’ll do the rest. Here’s what VIP Member Sarah Ross of Doodles Creek said about being part of the #empoweredcollective