Today I visited the B2B networking event at Marshall’s Airport in Cambridge and the networking opportunities here were amazing. I made new connections, met brands I’ve been considering contacting for some time and caught up with existing contacts & friends, it was a highly successful event and I will be back again next year for certain.
I’ve recently decided to be my own walking, talking marketing/PR person… if I can’t market my own business, who on earth is going to do it for me?! I’m not one to go suited & booted, I tend to opt for bright colours and sparkly Converse trainers – that’s me and if people don’t like it, then they don’t me in their life. It’s taken me a while to be able to say that out loud!
So, I have branded my car, I carry a name badge around to clip on at such events so that people can spot me, even my car keys have a “Stir Up Media” branded keyring and I don’t ever trust a business person who isn’t their own biggest marketeer!
On leaving the B2B networking event this afternoon, I hopped into the free shuttle with five other professionals, sharing the three minute drive between the venue and the car park. Nobody said a word, I shared a seat with two very serious looking business men and sat opposite two business women, one who turned her head and stared out of the window. We sat in silence, politely smiling at everyone and I kept feeling more and more awkward – I’m not good with awkward silences, I’m a chatterbox.
After about a minute, I thought to myself, I could say two things out loud.
The first option could be to announce just how awkward the silence was, however I remembered that I was in professional company and it might not be the appropriate statement to announce.
So, I went with the second option.
I asked if everybody collectively had enjoyed the networking event and it got four of us chatting away (the one lady who stared out of the window continued to ignore us, so we didn’t indulge her any further) and continued to chat away as strangers until we arrived at the car park.
As I took my keys out of my bag, the taxi passed by car (logo-heavy) and they all laughed, amused that they could spot where I was parked a mile off and we continued to connect as we spilled out onto the pathway outside.
It turns out, as we swapped business names and brief introductions that the lady was a digital marketing company who may in fact need my services (and vice versa) and one of the gents was in fact the Director at a local hotel & spa group of whom I’d been connecting with and plotting ideas with earlier in the day. It turned out that he wanted to stop and chat about their blog with me and he offered me a show around at said venue, along with a cuppa and some potential future partnership ideas as we parted company.
This happened all within the space of just five minutes.
Had I kept quiet, stared out of the window with my other female car-sharer, had I bit my tongue and not been “myself”, I wouldn’t have gained two more interesting people into my life.
My advice to anybody reading this who doesn’t yet embrace their quirks, who would rather stare out of the window than strike up a brief conversation with a stranger, just consider where it might lead if you simply be yourself more often!
Embrace your Kookiness. Do you do it as much as you would like? Or do you conform and ignore the opportunities that might be right there in front of you? I would love to hear your thoughts in a comment below or Tweet me your stories!