Anyone who has spent a bit of time with me knows that I am not really cut out for standard business networking. It may be a hang up from years spent in the dating industry or spent schmoozing at advertising agency events, but unless there’s something a little different, I usually don’t feel comfortable.
I don’t wear suits, I always forget my business cards and I feel weird giving the 2 minute spiel on what I do after a handshake. Yay for being a down to earth introvert!
Anyway, I do believe that networking is a good thing because it helps you make connections you may not have otherwise discovered, and also to keep conversation around your ideas open through meeting other people. But yes, I don’t like the pressure of standard business networking events because I feel awkward and clumsy. So I needed to find another solution.
The Freelance Jungle and a pet project
The Freelance Jungle is working well. We now average a dozen to 20 people each sitting, which is a nice healthy number for having a chat. I think having a social club helps make us feel less alone and also gives us the chance to talk about things that are painful, meet other freelancers who might be a good fit for jobs and so on.
A couple of people have asked about getting freelancers together with potential clients and I don’t feel like Freelance Jungle is the right setting for that. But I do think bringing these two parties together is a good idea. In addition to the Freelance Jungle, I have started another meetup called The Business of Wagtails.
But I didn’t want to do it in standard business networking format…so here’s the twist.
I have noticed that a lot of people who work solo or in small teams, whether that’s freelance, small business or startup, often have a four pawed companion. Usually it’s a dog. So I thought why not take the edge off meeting people by bringing us together to play fetch in the park? The humans can talk shop, and the dogs can show us how fun meeting new friends can be. If nothing else, it’s some fresh air, silliness and the chance to meet some new people without the pressure of standard networking meets.
The Business of Wagtails begins.
I honestly don’t know if this will work, but I figure if nothing else, my trusty Labrador sidekick Gibson and I will at least get to hang out. And it’s a chance to network without booze, coffee or artificial light, and have a readymade topic to talk about other than simply business in our dogs. If nothing else, at least the dog walk for the day will be done.