Give more referrals – Let’s pass on the fun

Here we are’s local network in Kenya meet every month to inspire the personal and professional development of travelling partners. The topic for September’s meeting was Networking. At the meeting experienced networker Jessica Pelham guided the group through a few networking  exercises. In this blog post we asked Jessica to share her approach and exercises for mutual inspiration in our global network.

It’s fun to connect, learn, and make new friends at here we are.
I’ve been a member of here we are Kenya for a year now, and was delighted when Kenya’s local coordinators Hanne, Anita and Susanne asked me to facilitate September’s meeting at the Tribe Hotel, Nairobi. I am passionate about networking, meeting new people and settling down fast, and I’m recognised for my networking skills in personal and professional circles.
I sat down with the here we are Kenya team to brainstorm how to provide a fast, effective and enjoyable way to connect people at the upcoming event. In the spirit of back to school September being the ‘new’ January, we knew there would be a mix of first-time to Kenya members alongside seasoned expats at the event. We wanted to ensure the event was useful and memorable for everyone, underpinned by the here we are vision of furthering professional opportunities for travelling partners abroad.

Give more referrals to receive more referrals
I drew inspiration from being a member of Business Network International (BNI) and was keen to share how it successfully connects business people to business people looking to expand their list of contacts and referrals to potential customers. BNI’s vision draws on the premise of Givers Gain – the more referrals you give the more you receive – and I wanted to bring this spirit of giving and receiving to the HWA event. The model of quickly exchanging key information between BNI members was adapted to connect to the here we are competency matrix. The matrix is an invaluable tool to help travelling partners gain clarity on where they are today in their personal and professional development and where they would like to move towards.

Networking exercises for inspiration
First, people wrote down their names on pieces of card. Cards were picked at random, and each person had 30 seconds to stand up and share: 1) their name 2) their current occupation/line of work/services offered 3) any services or support needed today. Each person spoke, one by one, to the whole room. This was a fun and fast-paced ice breaker with a 30 second bell rung if anyone went over time.
The second step was for each person to write their name and contact details on small pieces of card. They then connected directly to one, two or more people stating what they were looking to learn more about. Everyone in the room saw what each person was looking for. Once people realised how the system worked, they began writing more and more referral slips to share with the most interesting connections for them. We encouraged members to include referrals to people beyond here we are, like family and friends. This opened up potential network opportunities in the wider community and many slips were handed out.
This fast-paced exchange showed us whose services were most in demand. One person offering training in wordpress and website design, was very sought after. Coaches and therapists were very popular too, as were those offering pro bono services to explore developing environmental awareness projects in schools and other social community outreach work. Anita, one of the here we are Kenya team, wanted an opportunity to connect in a smaller group to exercise outdoors at a local forest, and this was extremely popular.
The last step was to pick one of the here we are competency matrix areas of most interest. The groups networked further in smaller groups and listed topics for future here we are meetings on flip-charts. The data was digitised later and shared with the group.
This event was very well received–I would be happy to advise on how to maximise networking activities at your own here we are event. Just get in touch!
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