This week Claire Thomas shares her experience of how important networking is when trying to launch a project.
So now her office is set-up, official business cards have been printed, but what’s her next step? Oh yes, she needs to meet and forge the relationships with key individuals to get her project up and running. Here Claire writes about her need to network.
“Once upon a time I was unexpectedly out of work and a kind lady took me in hand and decided to teach me to network. Actually, she was a very senior person in a very large company, didn’t give me any choice in the matter and I was too scared to object. Prior to that I think I’d seen networking as something a bit dirty – meeting up with people only to see what you can get out of them, and yes, some people seem to do it that way. But there is another glorious side to it which involves spending time talking to a wide variety of interesting people about interesting things.
To make this project happen I have to talk to and meet with a lot of people, and now I’m very grateful to that kind lady. Without the confidence and experience that I got from what she taught me, I don’t think I could do it.
I love the excuse to talk to almost anyone about the English Volunteering Project. My favourite networking activity is to invite someone for coffee (if you’ve met me you’ve probably had coffee with me). This is partly because I find networking one-to-one or with small numbers of people easier, but also because I get to eat cake and drink coffee in a nice environment. I have a nice chat with someone, they learn about me and I learn about them. Frequently nothing concrete happens as a result of the meeting except that I have a few more ideas and a pleasant time. Sometimes great things happen. I think of it as if I’m doing a jigsaw. All the people I meet are pieces of a gigantic jigsaw. I find one piece and may have no idea what to do with it, but then later I’ll be working on another part of the jigsaw and will suddenly find the place for that piece I found so long ago. In the same way I may meet someone today and not much happens, but in a few months I’ll be meeting with someone else and think that I should put the two of them in touch.
Not everyone wants to meet up for a chat – different people have different ways of working, and I am not offended if someone doesn’t want to meet me. But I work on the basis that it doesn’t hurt to ask as I never know what the result might be.
I do occasionally go to larger networking events because I think they’ll be useful. But my guilty secret is that I hate that kind of event – I feel like a small child in a room full of adults, wondering why any of them would ever be interested in paying any attention to me. But I’ll continue to go to them occasionally because I don’t want to always stay in my comfort zone, and you never know what the result might be.”
By Claire Thomas
Check back in a few weeks to hear more about Claire’s progress.
Claire Thomas was born in Hong Kong, grew up in Northern Ireland and has lived in Scotland, England, Germany and now Sweden (where she hopes to stay for a good long while). In this blog she shares her experience of setting up a project focused on helping non-Swedish speakers to find volunteering opportunities with non-profit organisations in Stockholm.
If you are interested in the project you can contact Claire by email at [email protected]
Like us on Facebook to follow the project’s development – go to ‘The English Volunteering Project in Stockholm’.
The project is part of Volontärbyrån www.volontarbyran.org