This week I was talking again to accountants who belong to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW). 80 very senior accountant types turned up to hear about portfolio careers. Interestingly about a quarter of them already had portfolio careers and I am finding this happening more and more when I talk to groups.
As usual in my quick introduction to the subject I talked about the importance of networking and not waiting until you were unemployed before you started doing this. I often wonder if I am being a bit patronising when I give people tips as to what to say and what to do to help them get more out of networking events. People stayed behind for drinks and nibbles (what you and I would call networking!) and a number of them told me how difficult they found it to ‘do’ networking events as they felt too shy to approach people. I pointed out that a number of them had approached me so how did they manage that. Their answers made me realise that for starting out with this activity there is much to be said for going to events with a focus. This event meant that everyone had a common language – “weren’t the speakers crap”, “so – how did you find that?”. It made me realise that if networking is new to you then go to ones that have a focus so there is always something that you can start off talking about.