Yes, I admit it, give me a microphone, a lectern, stage or studio and I’m a happy bunny.
Growing up in Glasgow (a small village in Europe!) in the 1970’s you had 3 choices to ensure survival:
1: Join a gang (that one didn’t appeal to me)
2: Become an Olympic runner to ensure you could outpace the gangs (Not too keen on that one either)
3: Use humour as a protective shield – I chose that option but still had a few close encounters with the locals who thought I was trying to be funny at their expense.
Local radio was brand new in 1974 and the DJs were treated like rock stars so, at the tender age of 14, that’s what I was going to be. I bluffed my way on to a hospital radio station and so began my (laughingly called) media career. Discovering that talking wasn’t an issue I started to interview everyone and anyone from people standing at a bus stop to local sportsmen and politicians. Fast forward to 2016 and not a lot has changed. . . well, apart from moving halfway across the world and settling in Queensland Australia that is.
Those early radio experiences opened the door to mainstream radio, live sports presentation, TV news and sport where I ended up working for ITV regional news as a cameraman/interviewer.
We (that’s my wife Tracey who I affectionately refer to as the current Mrs Bennett) could have stayed in our comfort zone back in the UK, continued to live in Norwich (A more easterly European village) and run our media training courses for another 20 years but the opportunity to start again in this amazing country was too much to resist.
After almost 2 years, the top 3 things I’ve learned about living in Queensland are:
1: The drivers are simply mad. Roundabouts are there to be ignored and nobody can merge in traffic
2: Most small business owners include “coach” in their biog or company description
3: Network events are compulsory and you’re expected to attend at least 9 meetups every week
I wrote a blog about networking that was very well received.. . apart from the organisers of the event I was talking about! One of the suggestions I made was to ‘be honest with yourself’
Why are you attending in the first place? If you’re planning on selling your product or services then I suggest you open an eBay shop or take some paid advertising out on Google because people are not buying. Seriously, we really don’t need to see your fantastic new invention or hear the reasons why we wearing the wrong makeup (aimed at me I think) when we are trying to learn about the people who have expressed an interest in us.
I am genuinely interested in people, I love a good story and often find studio guests for my Monday Morning show on Logan 101FM (see what I did there?) at networking events. Several BBB group members have been interviewed on the show and that was as a result of a network meeting or Facebook group discussion.
What I object to is having a card thrown in my direction then the person heads off to talk to someone more interesting! Handing out 50 business cards at a network event might seem like a result but is it?
I would rather give 2 or 3 cards away to people I’ve had a conversation with than a rain forest worth that will end up in a recycle bin or buried in a “useful contacts” box somewhere in the great Abyss.
I guarantee, if someone wants your card they’ll ask for it.
The only thing you need to remember is that ‘Finger food is not your friend’
No matter how you look at it, samosas, pastries and sushi are not flattering when the remains cling on to the surface of your teeth despite your best efforts to conceal the evidence. The temptation to stare at that morsel of cabbage rather than listen to your new contact will be overwhelming. Someone will approach and ask what you do just as that mini quiche settles on your tongue. . . It’s a skill normally reserved for restaurant waiting staff but very common on all networking occasions.
So, if truth be told, I’m living my dream here in Australia, still enjoying running our media training company and feeding the ‘performer ego’ on the radio. Guess I’ll always be a media tart!