Thinking of joining Edinburgh Businesswomen’s Club? My top ten reasons for taking the leap by Lynn Mcmurray of the seasonal touch
I’ll be honest, I had kind of dismissed the whole idea of networking. I thought it just wasn’t for me. Before starting my own business my previous roles hadn’t required me to do any kind of formal networking. I had no experience of it, or so I thought. Of course I later realised I’d been doing it all along - I’d been networking within my industry and my own organisation, even within my social groups without even realising it, it had just never been referred to as ‘networking’.
I’d heard my husband or friends say they were going to a networking event and I shuddered. Urgh! A packed room full of name badge wearing strangers, soullessly exchanging business cards while clutching either a bacon butty or a glass of wine - depending on the time of day - or maybe both! I imagined it would be a bit like speed dating, or worse! I thought everyone there would be very much in it for themselves with a ‘Who in this room can get me closer to my goals?’ or ‘What’s in it for me?’ kind of attitude.
There was definitely fear - Fear of the unknown. Fear the conversations would either be beyond me or I would dry up completely in the middle of them - awkward!
I definitely had some impostor syndrome going on. I’d just started this little venture of mine and I wasn’t a real ‘businesswoman’ was I? I had no right to even be there! I don’t consider myself an introvert but I’d far rather be at a small gathering, catching up with
friends and being introduced to a few ‘friends I just haven’t met yet’ than be at a big, noisy party full of strangers, where I’m forced to make small talk with them. If networking was anything like the latter it didn’t appeal to me one bit!
Back in January last year - 2019, my husband had a chance conversation with Lyndsey Phillips, EBC members will know from her role as president of the Association of Scottish Business Women but he works with Lyndsey in her ‘day job’ as Client Relationship Director at The Institute of Customer service. He had mentioned my business and she suggested I check out the Edinburgh Businesswomen’s Club. Now there’s the power of networking right there!
Something in the way Lyndsey had described the group to my husband made me think it might be a bit different to my preconceived ideas of networking so I thought it would be worth giving it a go. That very week there was to be an ‘Information Evening’ being held. Ideal. I decided to check it out.
The first thing that struck me about that night was the welcome I was given by Kate Bell, shortly followed by other members the group. I had run enough business courses in my previous life to know that those first few seconds when someone walks through the door are crucial. How they are received into the room can shape their entire experience. Big tick! So far, so good. I didn’t want to turn on my heels and run.
I left that evening thinking - yes, I could see this group as being something I might want to be a part of. I didn’t quite know what to expect, what I would get out of it but I thought it felt like there might be opportunities.
My experience of EBC this past year and a bit has been a completely positive one. Thinking about why this was so and in what ways EBC had helped me and my business I opted to put together a little Top Ten.
In no particular order....
1. Peer interaction Being a ‘’Solopreneur’ or a one person business can often be a lonely place. It really helps to regularly connect with other like-minded folks, in the same position as yourself, to cheer each other on and provide some much needed encouragement, positivity and support. That’s something I definitely value being part of EBC.
2. Sharing of information - This is a generous group of individuals, willing to share their
knowledge on either their own area of expertise or maybe just a resource they’ve found
particularly useful. Having access to that shared knowledge base is key when you’re a small business owner.
3. Network connections/Introductions/sharing of contacts - Probably what most people
associate with networking events but with this group it always comes from a place of
generosity. Members seem to be always thinking ‘How can I help my network better connect with each other?’ - GIVE BEFORE YOU RECEIVE is definitely the order of the day with this group.
4. Spark creativity Whether it’s just from hearing about what someone else is doing and that sparks an idea for something I could do or maybe it’s a direct suggestion for me and my business from someone in the group. Having my creativity sparked regularly is critical for me. In business you have to be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things and that’s something I value from my EBC membership.
5. Problem Solving There’s a good chance someone will have already had the same or a similar issue and will be able to share what they tried and what did or didn’t work for them. Or maybe it’s something no-one has come across before but the power of collective brain storming can be just what you need.
6. Raising my company profile It always helps to spread the word about your business - who you are and what you do. Whether that’s just through the few minutes introduction we all do at First Friday, having EBC members like and share your social media posts or the opportunity to run a workshop for members, it all helps.
7. Authentic connections Without being sexist, I honestly feel that this is because it’s a
women’s group. Everyone shows up as their authentic self. There’s a warm and yet no
nonsense approach, no airs and graces and it always feels like everyone is genuinely cheering everyone else on. It’s a real confidence booster. You know the old adage ‘You’re the average of the top 5 people you surround yourself with’? Well it turns out that’s rubbish. The truth is it’s not the average of FIVE people, it’s much bigger than that. You’re the average of ALL the people you surround yourself with!
8. Motivation Business is rarely ever a bed of roses and when times are tough, connecting with the group, hearing what they’re all doing, having your creativity sparked, being around positive people, getting possible solutions to problems can be a great motivator.
9. A safe space to discuss difficult topics Whether it’s managing stress, dealing with impostor syndrome, dealing with challenging business relationships or maybe you just need to offload about something. Whether it’s discussed in a group or in a one to one with a fellow member, you always know it’s going to be an empathetic conversation, without judgement and solution focused.
10. Great Coffee & Scones First Friday means one thing - tea/coffee and scones. I mean come on!! Is there a better, more civilised way to come together? What can’t be solved or improved upon by putting the kettle on and having a nice cuppa?
So there you have it. My experience of what’s now just over a year of membership with Edinburgh Businesswomen’s Club. Who knows what the next year of business will bring for us all but one thing I do know for sure, whatever it is we’ll all be there cheering each other on.