Catena founder Claire Bicknell shares her tips for networking with no agenda, helping you to open up and stay connected
29th December 2016
Networking With No Agenda
Now, I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like being sold to. There’s nothing more off-putting than someone with an urge to push you into buying their product or service is there? But then again, business is about selling. So, is it possible to network strategically, but with an open agenda? It may sound like a contradiction, but at Catena, that’s exactly what we aim to help people to do!
Our Strategic Side
Strategic networking simply means building networking into your business development strategy so you know what you need to achieve from it. There’s a great article on it here which in many ways mirrors our approach at Catena. We aim to create strategic business connections and introductions to help people maintain a strategy in their networking. One example is the way we circulate the attendance list before each event, allowing people to plan who they would like to speak to. Another thing we do to keep things strategic is provide each person with a personalised WLTM list. This is a little special strategic thinking done on your behalf before you’ve even got to the event! We’re also helping Catena members to be strategic in the types of events that we put on, hopefully helping them make the best choices about how to make new contacts. We were also delighted to launch a new idea – a “Maître d’ networking” – at our event on the 10th November. Adrian Pec very kindly volunteered to greet guests on the night and make them feel comfortable and introduce them, helping to showcase the Catena love!
Our Open Side
On the other hand, we also encourage an open agenda in business introductions and business connections. I think that when you have too narrow a focus, you can end up missing out on a lot. That’s the reason we don’t give people name badges at our events! It means that you have more open conversations with the people you meet instead of risking filtering someone out on the basis of their company name or type. We also do away with the old-style elevator pitch as we believe that people will speak passionately and relevantly about they do…. So, open means being open to meeting new people and seeing what happens. Because when you let go of your agenda, you create more space for interesting things to take place. That’s exactly what this article highlights in exploring more innovative ways to build business connections. They actively celebrate a lack of agenda which is great, although I would like to say that I am less strict on the use of technology!
The Catena Paradox
So, here’s the Catena business networking paradox – go without an agenda but be strategic at the same time!
Of course, you still have to do the ‘hard yards’ yourself and engage with the people you want to do business with – hard selling won’t do it!
But when you go to networking with an open mind and stay connected with great businesses, all kinds of interesting things can happen.