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Why do you need a supportive network around you?

Samantha Salisbury of Jonsam Events Ltd on why having a reliable support network is important.

Prior to the pandemic taking hold in March 2020, my work as free-lancer meant I usually operated as a “lone-ranger”. Of course, I had a community of clients and this involved teams of people – and I would even work from their offices from time to time. However, I didn’t attend many industry networking events apart from the larger ones like Confex since the majority were in London which is a bit of a trek from the small village outside of Cambridge where I am based.

But last year this all changed. I set up Get Ahead in Events Facebook Group to help other event profs learn and develop and to allow networking opportunities. The group grew with regular virtual coffee mornings and speaker sessions. People were missing face to face opportunities to network and had to move to virtual meetings due to the pandemic. I looked forward to the weekly chats in amongst home schooling and met event profs from across the globe as the virtual sphere makes this much easier.

It is therefore somewhat ironic that, for me, I have felt more networked and “in touch” with my industry during the pandemic than before.

This is hopefully the only time in our lives when we will be trapped at home if you are in the UK or also facing restrictions in other parts of the world so virtual works well. But I intend to continue to engage with this network around me even after live events are back. The events industry can be a vibrant, buzzy and welcoming space when we are running face to face events. But for freelancers working from home, it can sometimes be a solitary place and why we need to build a community around us.

The network I have created includes event professionals at all stages of their events career – some are seasoned event profs with 20 plus years under their belt and others are at the first stages of their careers and currently studying and volunteering. It makes for a vibrant mix of influences and ideas and some are now on the committee for the FB Group bringing ideas, hosting events, and creating the marketing graphics.

If you want to build a bigger community around yourself here are a few pointers:

  • Engage with others on social media. Reach out and connect with someone if anything they post on Instagram resonates with you
  • If you attend a virtual event and enjoy a speaker’s presentation, drop them a message on LinkedIn and connect with them - Look for communities of like-minded event professionals that you can engage with
  • Look for associations and other networks that offer networking opportunities, trainings, and other benefits. I have been a member of ABPCO for several years now and enjoy attending their live events in 2019 and their virtual ones last year. They have a platform where you can be notified of event tenders as well as awards you can enter.
  • Find some fun events that you join like virtual cocktail making, book clubs and quizzes
  • Above all if you meet someone virtually that you think you would like to hang out with in real life – then drop them a message/connection request on LinkedIn to connect with them.

Image source: Unsplash