Self-Employment can be a lonely old life. I remember “Day One” for me was pretty miserable. Sat at home, fingering the filling of a Jammy Dodger (I was comfort eating!) staring at a missed cobweb, tempted to turn on “Vasectomy Watch” or “Animals Do The Funniest Things On Acid” or whatever tripe they show on daytime TV these days!
Were there like-minded people in Shropshire who had just given up a 30-odd-thousand-pounds-a-year job for a life of navel-gazing, Pot Noodle and Monster Munch sandwiches?! I had to find out…
Fortunately, a mate’s sister (and fellow trainer) had moved back to the area from Cornwall and we were keen to explore the networking opportunities in our beautiful county. A spot of Googling later and we’d invited ourselves along to a small local forum, tempted by offers of bacon baps, Danish pastries and the opportunity to find out if there were other crazed fools out there having a mid-life crisis!
“Welcome!” said the lovely lady in a gingham two-piece on our arrival at the hotel. “You are ready to do your sixty-second spiel are you not?” Of course, we immediately lost our appetites and stood cowering like a couple of kittens in the corner! With hardly a moment to gather our composure (or to find the exit!) we were ushered to our seats by our tablecloth-wearing hostess, where fellow “networkers” gave us sideways glances, friendly nods and that “look” that says: “YUM! YUM! Fresh meat!”
And so, the introductions began…like ‘creeping death’ it was! Dianne and I weren’t listening. Liberace could have stood up in a long-line bra and we wouldn’t have twigged on! The others in the room were SO good; you could tell they’d been to the “Angela Rippon School of Sixty-Second Spiel-ness”. What on EARTH could I tell them about myself?!?! “Hello, I’m Ade and yes, I used to read the boy’s problem section of my sister’s Just Seventeen…I know what you’re thinking – that won’t get me very far in the business world, however, I do know how to clear up a decidedly bad bout of back acne!”
Dianne was eloquent (I hated her!) AND it was exactly sixty seconds long! I gave her one of my “I’ve just been turned down for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar” smiles, stood up, knees knocking more than a privy door in a thunderstorm and prepared to project my spur-of-the-moment minute.
I couldn’t to this day tell you what I said! I know I got a laugh, which helps; tumbleweed didn’t whiz past me as I sat down and the gingham goddess et al gave me a round of applause!
Remember that corner Dianne and I were cowering in? That’s where you’ll find us 45 minutes later, only this time, it’s coffee break and we’re approached by entrepreneurs keen to encircle us like rabid wolves.
“Hmmmm…nice business card!” we coo to one gentleman through gritted smiles as we unfold the equivalent of the Bayeux Tapestry! “Hi! I’m Annabel,” says a rather horsey-looking lady as she launches her card at me: “If you’re ever after a side-winding thermal body belt to take away the chill during those cold winter months at the office, I’ve got them in several colours, shapes and sizes!”
“Daaaarling! In need of coaching?” shouts across a Mrs Doubtfire look-alike, “I’ve got free taster sessions happening all next week…” by the time I’d finished chatting to her, I felt like I’d been through a serious stretch of post-natal depression, acquired a new-found inferiority complex, as well as a burning desire to self-harm with the bacon tongues on an adjacent table!
“Quick Dianne! Let’s get outta here!” If Batman and Robin appeared at a “50% Off Lycra Sale” at New Look, they couldn’t have shifted themselves any faster! We made for our bat-like ‘Trainer-mobile’ and scarpered down the driveway! A HUGE sigh of relief…
Please, dear colleagues, tell me that not ALL networking is as intimidating as this?! I’ve regressed back to the sofa, with my Jammy Dodgers and Waggon Wheels this time around! Can you tempt me out of “hiding” with more than a bacon bap?!
Stay tuned for more of Ade’s rants and rambles! You can find him at http://www.develop-meant.com