Networking can be a mixed bag. With so many factors making or breaking how you feel and interact at a meetup, it's enough to make even the most confident of us want to turn and run.
Here's the situation. You enter the room. It's dead. You're about to turn heel but you accidentally make eye contact with someone within the smattering of people. With eyes interlocking, you try and hide the fact that you wanted to make a break for it, but they know you don't want to be there, just like them. They have you in their sights and they know that you may be the last hope in making this evening worthwhile. Desperation sinks in. You all want to be at home, wasting time in front of the tellybox but no, you thought this would be a good idea. 'Why?' Your internal monologue screams! 'Why do I put myself through this? I did this last month', and then, you realise.
You are in perpetual networking hell.
Well, we have the remedy for all that? What if we told you the next event you attend will be amazing? What if we suggested you attend the excellent Cambridge Marketing Meetup held at Redgate Software, Cambridge Business Park which happens to fall on the first Tuesday of every month?
Celebrating their very first birthday, the CMM started from humble beginnings and fast became one of Cambridge's best meetup and networking events, which has all stemmed from one very humble man. On one lonely train journey, Joe Glover realised that he had no marketing peers to talk to. Dragging out his Ipad, he came up with the brainwave of creating a group to meet up with other like-minded people and maybe, just maybe others may want to meet up too.
Utilising the Meetup platform, Joe soon put his group idea to work and found himself together with a handful of people listening to the specialisms of speakers within the marketing field. Word got around and the meetup got more and more popular. Not just from fellow marketers, but soon freelancers and other businesses (both big and small), all looking for advice and a chance to hear a professional's opinion and, oh yeah; just a little bit of networking.
Joe starts the evening with some basics:
You are here to learn something new, hear a different perspective, or have something you already know verbalised in a different way. To discuss what you have learned among other interested human beings. And maybe look to continue the relationship you establish through those ideas in other ways in the future.
Followed by a friendly piece of advice:
When networking, always start with 'hello'
And the final request which should really come naturally:
Just be positively lovely
Not only is this advice sound, the meetup also attracts some amazing speakers. From Jon Torrens talking with confidence about confidence and holding the whole audience in his palm, to Andrew Hatcher using poise and grace to discuss the potentially emotionally charged subject of Brexit V Marketing.
One speaker we truly remember would be Katie Hart, and that's not just us. Katie keeps creeping up in subject even though her talk finished 5 months ago. Speaking about gender based marketing vs neural evidence she exposed something that lies on the underbelly of all strategies. Agree with her viewpoint or not - she did exactly what any great topic does and stimulated discussion and debate among everyone in the group.
It's simply amazing that when once before Joe had to go and find speakers to come to the CMM and give a talk, now he has them contacting him.
The Cambridge Marketing Meetup really is a success story. So much so that the past events have sold out (although we stress, there is no charge) with a waiting list of people wanting to get on board. When speaking to Joe about a highlight he mentions that it's all just a constant surprise. Every month is better than the last and the sense of momentum gives a nice feeling. He also mentions that the meetup achieved its objective within the first month so everything that has happened since is a real bonus. What objective was that? Well, earlier we mentioned that Joe was looking for some peers to talk to. From starting up the group, he found not only like-minded peers but also future friends and colleagues. And that's what meetups should all be about, right? Learning, interaction, mutual respect and maybe a few beers with peers.
So, meetups and networking can be a nightmare; however, we have proof they can be amazing. With Joe's vision expanding to a Norwich Marketing Meetup and a spin off events based group about to start, chances are you won't be going to a meetup alone again.
Image credit: Alan Bennett / Media Imaging Solutions