Networking for a Newbie
As a people person, becoming a freelance writer can a bit daunting. Working from home, bashing away at a keyboard with only your plants or the dog to talk to, life can get very lonely.
One of my priorities when setting up as a freelancer was networking. Not only could it mean connections that lead to new clients, it means getting out of the house and having adult human interactions. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s about the importance of those human connections.
So when the opportunity to attend the first 2021 Breakfast series, presented by the City of Rockingham and facilitated by Rockingham Kwinana Chamber of Commerce, came around, I signed up immediately.
Food and Adult conversation
Not only was I going to be able to enjoy a hot breakfast, courtesy of Café Clipper, (as a mother, any food I don’t have to prepare is welcome!), I was going to be able to meet with other local people in business, talk about what they do, how they do it and work out where I could possibly fit in to provide a service that was in need.
It’s been many years since I went to a networking event, so I was a bit nervous. Was it going to be hard to strike up a conversation? Would it be filled with people who already knew each other so I would be left on the outside?
All my fears were brushed away immediately with the welcome I received when I arrived. Once I was adorned with my name badge, mingling was easy and everyone was friendly and eager to chat.
Business in a post-COVID world
The theme for the breakfast was Key Leaders in Business and the guest speaker was Myrianthe Riddy from Mandurah Cruises. She summarised how they had developed the business since they took over in 2016 and how they have had to take a step back and revitalise in the wake of COVID-19.
For a business who once relied on international tourism, I loved the way they had diversified with their BBQ boats, showing that they had a good understanding of their potential customers in 2021 and that they are not willing to sit around and wait for their international clientele to return. It was also nice to hear a business owner who thought of her staff as an asset to her business rather than a commodity that could easily be cut back on to maintain profits.
During question time, I was intrigued by a question by a member of the audience which was about cross-promotions between local businesses to promote other businesses. This particular person had thanked her clients by taking them on a tour of Fremantle Prison instead of the more usual but boring gift of a bottle of wine.
This kind of unconventional yet complementary business thinking seriously piqued my interest and I was able to chat with the person after the talk had concluded. Again, I was nervous about approaching a stranger but she wasn’t a stranger for long and was so open and willing to help, introducing me to other people who would be able to help me, or suggesting other groups to contact.
Community building and beyond
As a member of my local community, I appreciated the way the local people promoted using small local businesses during and after the main lockdown in Perth due to COVID, knowing many were doing it tough. It was inspiring to see this happening even more within the business community and to be on the receiving end of so much genuine support and encouragement was wonderful.
I left the networking breakfast with a bunch of contacts, a way forward for my career and an excitement to get moving.
So if you see one of the BBQ boats bobbing along the Mandurah canals with someone bashing away at a laptop, give me a wave! And maybe a yell to make sure I don’t float out to sea because I’m too engrossed in my writing.
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