Striking up new conversations isn't always easy, especially if you're going in cold or with the most basic of introductions. As we're still fairly new to the Yorkshire market, we're at the start again, testing new relationships and finding our 'in'.
We're a known brand in London and the South East and are now looking at building a reputation and strong relationships in the rest of the UK. At the moment, we're concentrating on Yorkshire, where we have a dedicated team and have put down roots, and we're currently doing more networking than we've done for a good number of years.
Some people find the whole process of networking less palatable than others and that's where becoming a member of a group, which is set up pretty much for these purposes, makes the whole process somewhat less awkward - you're all in it together for a start.
In this spirit, we have now joined the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and, thanks to the efforts of our enthusiastic senior project consultant in Wakefield, Gemma Lennon, are now working our way through its events schedule.
Last week, Gemma attended a business lunch with approximately 55 other Chamber members from a wide variety of sectors. The lunch included representatives from companies new to the area like ours, alongside directors from large, multi-national concerns as well as SMEs.
Gemma sees the networking process as a vital part of establishing Saracen in the area: "We've got to get out there, make ourselves visible in the region and be in the business of making contacts, without any discrimination. You never know who'll ship up at these events and, in Yorkshire, there seems to be an eclectic mix of individuals out there who are all keen to make the approach.
"The other attendees at networking events I've called in at, including last week's lunch, have been relevant and engaging. Everyone has the shared aim of wanting to grow their respective businesses and we can all support each other. I am already seeing potential opportunities for joint ventures and have exchanged cards with numerous candidates that Saracen may be able to work with, in some capacity, further down the line."
Perhaps one of the prime benefits, often not mentioned, in relation to these events is the opportunity to get in touch with end-users. All of these people work in offices for some or all of the week and so, whether we do business with them or not, there is always a relevance to each 'hello'.