Networking isn’t something that comes naturally to me. Growing up I was incredibly shy and quiet, and while I am less shy now I still do have my moments!
Despite this I have been trying to get out there to meet new people. Yesterday, I attended two networking events – i-genius cafe London in the morning, and nfptweetup in the evening.
The i-genius event, held at Tinderbox Cafe in Angel, was an informal networking event for social entrepreneurs. I read about the event on Twitter – I had not heard of i-genius before, and didn’t really know what to expect but decided to go because the organisation sounded interesting.
i-genius is a world community of social entrepreneurs in over 200 countries. They organise events and training courses in social entrepreneurship around the world.
Working from home can be quite hard sometimes as it can mean I don’t see and speak to as many people as I used to when working in an office. The i-genius event was a great way for me to start the day. I met some really inspiring people who are working in different fields and are achieving so much.
A lot of the people I spoke to had international businesses or experience, which I really enjoyed learning about. For example, Nancy Johnston – the Founder of Tengri – told me about how she decided to start her business during a trip to Mongolia. Nancy creates beautifully designed knitwear, using yak wool – a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to cashmere – that looks good, feels good, and does good.
There is a really good description of why Nancy started Tengri and why yak wool is being used instead of cashmere on their crowdfunding page: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/tengri – please do take a look, and while you are there please do consider backing the campaign.
Half way through the event, we gathered together as a group and told each other a little about our work. This was a great way for us to learn about what the people we hadn’t spoken to are up to.
Registering with i-genius is free. To find out more about i-genius please visit their website: www.i-genius.org
Yesterday was NFPtweetup’s 6th birthday! NFPtweetup, founded by Rachel Beer, are events for people who work at or with, charities and non-profit organisations and who are interested in harnessing the power of digital and social media, and other new technologies, to achieve their strategic objectives.
I have attended a couple of NFPtweetup’s in the past and have always found the events have given me a lot to think about.
At the event yesterday Luke Williams, Social Media Innovation Officer at RNLI, ran a Failure Swapshop where the audience share their failures and lessons learnt. I had never been to a Failure Swapshop before, and found it a really interesting experience.
The idea of standing up and sharing something you have failed at sounds really scary, and I wasn’t brave enough to take part last night, but now I have seen what a Failure Swapshop is like and how supportive people are I might be tempted to take part next time!
Matthew Matheson, Collaboration and Creativity Consultant at Nixon McInnes, then got us chatting in small groups about Christmas – the only rule was before each sentence we had to say ‘Yes And’. The next time we had to say ‘Yes But’ before each sentence – this was a lot more difficult, and led to a much more negative conversation. It was a great way to see that when brainstorming, and generally when having conversations, how important it is to encourage ideas rather than shoot them down.
I met really interesting people yesterday at both events and learnt a lot too. Events like i-genius and NFPtweetup are making me realise that networking isn’t so scary after all!