Boozing and schmoozing

3 tips I learnt at a wine night

Networking gets my heart pumping. But not in a good way.

I’m a classic writer who thrives on quiet, alone time. Don’t get me wrong, I love a social event. Just not a dawn till dusk affair, and definitely not three days in a row.

Last year I came across the MP Kickass Community and discovered a group who I instantly wanted to join. And like the typical creative spirit in movies, I loitered around the edges before dipping my elbow in to see what it was all about.

I started by joining their Facebook group, then felt brave enough to purchase a ticket to one of their renowned wine nights.

Getting myself all glitzy to attend was exciting. Walking through the door was terrifying. But my fears were quickly washed away. The night was filled with meeting beautiful mortals, dancing up a sweat and the hint of budding friendships. I even won a door prize which turned out to be a blissful facial by Jemma from Allure Beauty.

Here’s what I learnt in four wonderful hours.

1. It’s okay not to drink wine

I rarely drink alcohol, and when I do, my favourite beverage is mead. I’m yet to find a bar or restaurant in my area that serves it.

Plus, as I was attending the event solo, I drove. But the ticket purchase included a glass of wine. Oh, the dilemma…well, not really. I simply traded my wine ticket at the bar for a cranberry juice.

I met some lovely folk and only one asked what I was drinking. I said ‘Cranberry juice’ and smiled. She said ‘Oh’.

Perhaps she expected it to be some exotic cocktail. But then we started chatting about our businesses and the moment was soon forgotten.

So, if you’re considering attending a networking event and one of the aspects isn’t quite to your taste, don’t be afraid to contact the organiser. Reach out and say, hey your group sounds fabulous but I’m not a hotdog fan, can I come along anyway? Most event organisers are happy to chat about the options available. Plus, being able to adapt is a must have skill when you’re running a business but you can use it when networking too.

2. Not everyone is part of the gang

Shh, don’t tell anyone, but some of them are secretly wishing you’d walk over and say hi.

It’s easy to stroll into an event, see all the smiling, chatting faces and want to dive under a table. You assume they’ve all known each other since primary school and won’t be interested in a newbie like you.

Once I plucked up my courage and got yacking with a few people I discovered many rookies in the group. I did a little dance in my head and then later, I got to really celebrate by churning up the dancefloor to some 90’s R&B tunes.

For sure, some form a circle more akin to a clan and hold much disdain for intruders. But that’s the minority. Most people are kind, friendly beings and are quite interested in getting to know you. And if they’re not, just keep asking questions about them, you never know what you might learn.

3. Don’t give out business cards

I thought I looked like a complete amateur when asked for a business card and I sheepishly replied, I don’t have one.

Instead, I took theirs or better, I got their email address. And I promised to email them. Which worked much better than taking a stack of cards home and losing them in the depths of my desk draws.

I felt the pressure of my pledge, so within two days, I’d sent an email to each of them. They all replied back.

I often forget names, so taking business cards home is painful. Which one was Sue? Did she have the cat business or the bag shop?

But emailing opens up a conversation. You’ll get extra points if you can get their details with confidence. Strike your favourite Charlie’s Angels pose and purr, ‘Business cards, no I don’t need those, but let’s connect on email’.

Are you a networking hot shot or do you prefer to shuffle in the shadows? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Plus, if you’re near the Mornington Peninsula, hopefully we’ll get to rub heels at a future MP Kickass event!