Can you ever enjoy networking?

Date posted:
Tue 23 May 2023

Michelle Mullany joined the MHA Moore & Smalley’s Corporate Finance Team as Head of Deal Origination after 20 years in business development roles at one of the Big 4. She works with our Corporate Finance team to identify and build relationships with entrepreneurs, owner-managed and family-owned businesses who need support with projects including raising finance, acquisitions and business sales.

There are certain words that when you hear them the hairs go up on the back of your neck and you get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. I would put money on it that for most people one of those words would be “networking”.

The images that come to mind are at best being stood alone in a corner with a vol au vent looking at your phone at worst being cornered by a salesperson walking through their in-depth proposition and you make your excuses to go and hide in the loo.

What are the benefits of networking?

I’d like to share what I feel the benefits are and how you can approach it with the right intention to move to a place where you enjoy the opportunity.

There are many benefits to networking for you to consider including:

  • The ability to establish yourself as an expert in your field and stand out in a crowded market.
  • Enabling you to connect with people in your industry or field.
  • Support you to build relationships with potential mentors, advisors, investors, or business partners who can guide and support you as you scale.
  • Play a part in gaining visibility and building your reputation and credibility as you meet influential people in your field.

With so many benefits why then do many of us still hesitate to maximise this opportunity?

Well, not everyone is an extrovert, so remember that it’s okay to take your time and network in a way that works for you.

Focus on quality over quantity and find networking opportunities that align with your strengths and preferences, that might be asking someone you know to go together, asking for the guest list beforehand to see if there are due to be any friendly faces there who you know already and you may prefer settings that have a smaller number of people.

How to approach a networking event

I believe it is always important to think about your intent with networking and remember to be a giver, not a taker so don’t show up hoping to get something from someone, rather attend events thinking how you can add value to someone and connect and support them.

Approach every conversation with a growth mindset so come ready to learn and approach events and conversations with an open mind and see the possibilities of developing as a person.

In the context of M&A then networking is critical because it can help you as a founder or shareholder to connect with potential investors, advisors, and partners and to build trust and credibility.

Ensure you are considering attending industry events, joining professional organisations, and connecting with individuals through social media platforms such as LinkedIn (that’s a whole topic on its own).

My role as Head of Deal Origination, as you might imagine plays a key role as we work with owner-managed businesses and entrepreneurs to identify, create, and maximise transaction opportunities for businesses.

I’ve grown to have a real love of networking and I believe that’s due to my interest in hearing people’s stories, enjoying connecting people to solve problems and maybe there is a little bit of what my dad says, “You’re just plain nosey”!

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