As the days become short, dark and cold, we start to prepare our pumpkins and hoard our sweets as Halloween approaches. In the season of screams, I hope to shed some light on one of the scariest parts of business… n…n…n…networking.

I’ve done a great deal of networking recently, so much so you could even argue that it’s part of my job. In the last 3 months, I’ve attended 34 networking events (that’s 150 hours of staying engaged and enthusiastic), received 250+ business cards, attended 24 follow up meetings and managed over 600 emails. You may ask, what’s been the outcome of all of this activity?

Well, so far I’ve become well-known on LinkedIn and within the Bristol business community. I am now also working with my first client and have identified many new business opportunities. I’ve discovered that networking is a great way to gain credibility and make connections. My focus, however, has been to see how I can help the people I’ve met and build professional relationships. I’ve made some great friends too and have been offered useful advice and recommendations, including the introduction to my new favourite podcast Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History.

So how did I get over my fear of networking? I simply realised that we are networking and selling all the time. Each time we meet somebody new, there is a potential ally. If you’re passionate about your work, you will find yourself networking in your free time. I met my first client through a connection. We conversed over our mutual love of Pierce Brown’s book, Red Rising and later he recommended a networking event which I wasn’t aware of. It was at this event, I met my first client.

So what do I think of networking?

I think it’s very worthwhile if you approach it with an open mind, looking for opportunities to help and learn whenever you can. It’s about building relationships without any particular expectation and it’s something that takes time and effort to develop. Have an interest in people and ask questions you want to know the answer to! There is nothing to be scared of because even this Halloween there are no business vampires only business people.

Tom Jaggs