This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

How-To Network For Small Business · Creative Mornings

Small Business

Networking.

It’s a word that can elicit strong responses from small business owners — some positive, many negative. Despite a wealth of ‘communication’ tools at our disposal, research suggests that small business owners can feel more isolated and struggle with higher levels of anxiety than people who are employed. A small step towards changing this, is for people to find genuine connection by getting out and meeting others like them.

For this month’s column, we dissect the art of networking with a man who knows all about the value of forming strong connections wth likeminded people – Jeremy Wortsman, founder and manager of The Jacky Winter Group and its associated gallery Lamington Drive, and the chapter organiser of Creative Mornings Melbourne.

19th October, 2018

Jeremy Wortsman is the founder of The Jacky Winter Group, (pictured) and also the chapter organiser of Melbourne Creative Mornings. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Jeremy is an innovation and professional development guru – we pester him for recommendations all the time! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Our small business columnist Fiona Killackey recently presented at Creative Mornings in Melbourne. Photo – Mark Lobo.

Connections being made at last months’ Creative Mornings event in Melbourne. Photo – Mark Lobo.

Last months’ Creative Mornings event in Melbourne. Photo – Mark Lobo.

The word ‘Networking’ often polarises people, but it’s an important part of running a small business. Photo – Mark Lobo.

‘Despite a wealth of “communication” tools at our disposal, research suggests that small business owners can feel more isolated and struggle with higher levels of anxiety than people who are employed,’ explains Fiona. Photo – Mark Lobo.

Jeremy is amazing and building community around his business! Here here is sharing his wisdom with Lucy at The Design Files Open House 2017. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Fiona Killackey
Friday 19th October 2018

Running your own business is full of things you don’t like or want to do… Networking and meeting people is the same — avoid it at your own peril.’  – Jeremy Wortsman.

Jeremy Wortsman may well be the face of one of Australia’s most successful small businesses, The Jacky Winter Group (a creative representation and production agency) and front the hugely popular Creative Mornings Melbourne events, but the American-born, Melbourne-based creative admits attending events and meeting new people doesn’t come naturally – ‘as an enormous introvert, I find events can be somewhat uncomfortable to attend’. The trick, he says, is to find something you will actually like… then just get on and go.

‘Running your own business is full of things you don’t like or want to do’ says Jeremy, ‘I still have to clean the toilets sometimes and run software updates on laptops, not because I love doing those things but because it’s vital to keeping the business going. Networking and meeting people is the same – avoid it at your own peril. That said, Creative Mornings is much more fun than cleaning a toilet, I promise’. 

Indeed Creative Mornings – a monthly series of breakfast lectures started in 2008 by Tina Roth Eisenberg (aka Swiss Miss) in New York – is polar opposite to many of the traditional ‘networking’ events. Spanning 189 chapters (locations) worldwide, Creative Mornings offers people a chance to mingle on the last Friday morning of each month, while enjoying a free beverage and snack, then listen to a 20-minute talk from a local creative on a global topic — such as ‘courage’, ‘love’ and ‘chaos’. (Past talks are available online).  

 As the 27th chapter to launch, Creative Mornings Melbourne (CM Mel) has been running since 2012, staffed by Jeremy and a team of fellow creative volunteers. Their events regularly sell out within hours of launching. Given the increasing number of similar events now available, why does Jeremy think CM Mel continues to pack out, month after month? ‘There’s a sense that by attending one you are really part of a global conversation – even more so, as every month each of the 189 chapters all speak on the same theme! I’m sure being a free event helps as well!’

As an attendee and recent speaker myself, I know first-hand how warm and welcoming the environment is, especially for people who are attending solo. Finding the opportunity to connect in a comfortable environment is key to networking, says Jeremy, even if that means starting small. ‘A great starting point is signing up to one of our earliest CM speakers, Kate Kendall’s newsletter of events called The Fetch,’ says Jeremy. ‘My biggest piece of advice however is that you don’t need to attend other events to network. You can always just start your own, and it doesn’t need to be a large thing. Even a small irregular meet-up of 2-3 like-minded people can have huge impacts. There’s so much support for niche events at the moment and sometimes the more focussed you can make something, the more relevant it can be for you and others.’ 

Despite parenting two small children, fronting CM Mel, running The Jacky Winter Group and hosting the weekly Jacky Winter Gives You The Business podcast, Jeremy still makes time to meet people. ‘I try not to separate the act of ‘networking’ to the day to day of running the business… There are definitely occasions where I am tracked down by much more aggressive capital-N Networkers and pulled into lengthy discussion that I would prefer not to, but I really like to hear everyone out, even if something isn’t for me. It’s always lead to something positive down the track in some way.’  

If you do decide to network face to face, Jeremy offers three key tips: 

1. Don’t think about what this person can do for you, but what you can offer them. Go into any interaction with a spirit of generosity, no matter what the circumstances. 

2. Educate yourself broadly! If you are networking properly you will probably be meeting lots of people outside your industry. It helps knowing who people are and what they do before you meet them. 

3. When going solo to an event don’t be afraid of silence or awkward moments. Challenge yourself to put your phone away and just sit with the unbearable awkwardness of being alone and see what happens. 

To attend an upcoming Creative Mornings event in your city sign up to Creative Mornings (Melbournians click here) and to see what Jeremy and The Jacky Winter Group is up to follow them on Instagram or visit them online.  

 

TIPS FOR BUSINESS NETWORKING

1. Start Small

When it comes to business networking, bigger isn’t always better. Consider meeting with just one or two fellow business people — whether these are friends you know, or people you follow and engage with on social media. You might choose to simply have a standing monthly coffee date where you can chat about challenges and wins that month in your business. You don’t even have to meet people face-to-face; tools like Skype or Zoom or even the old-school phone (remember, that’s what they’re for!) can be great ways to connect with people in a convenient and relaxed atmosphere.

2. Know Yourself & Your Objectives

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Does being within a large crowd excite or terrify you? Use a quick online tool like 16 personalities or even The Enneagram Test to learn a bit more about yourself, which may influence the type of networking events you attend or create. In addition to this, make a quick list of what you’re hoping to achieve. Is it to meet more people in your industry? Is it to check out the event as you’d like to be considered a speaker for future events? Is it to simply meet the host and make a connection? By creating a list you’re getting clear on why this event or opportunity is important to you.

3. Think Global, Act Local

Even if you’re located in a regional area, chances are there’s someone nearby that’s going through a similar challenge or whom you could learn from. I live in a town of 5000 but we still have 52 (!!) community groups. Do a quick search on Facebook for your suburb or town to see which community FB pages/groups there may be or check out events happening at your local library, co-working space or community centre. Often these are a cost-effective way to meet people with similar interests who also live nearby. If nothing else, have a chat to the small business owners you interact with weekly — such as the local cafe, local bakery, wine shop or newsagents. People are often willing to discuss their business, they just need you to kick it off.

4. Make it a Practice

Like anything else that’s a bit #awks in life, the more you do it the more comfortable it becomes. As an introvert, I know it can be hard to get yourself to a networking event so consider roping in a friend or colleague in the first instance, or look at shifting your mindset from how nervous you may be, to how you might go out of your way to make a fellow attendee feel more comfortable. Commit to attending just one event and go from there. It WILL get easier.

5. Use the 5-Second Rule

Stop overthinking things and take a note out of Mel Robbins’ book, The 5-Second Rule, which basically suggests you countdown 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 then just ACT! If you’re hovering over registering to an event, like Creative Mornings Melbourne, stop overthinking and just DO. What’s the best that could happen?

Fiona Killackey is business consultant and mentor for My Daily Business Coach. You can sign up to her weekly email full of small biz insights and tips here.

The Latest

Sustainable Homes

A Former Corner Store Turned Sustainable Family Home

A dilapidated, Federation-era shopfront is transformed into a truly unique, energy efficient home by CplusC Architectural Workshop.

Architecture

This Lower North Shore Family House Feels Like A Permanent Vacation!

Two grand palm trees on entry provide a strong identity for the Whisper House, designed by Manolev Architects.

News

A Group Show Combining Ceramics + Still-Life Under One Roof!

Ceramicist Grace Brown joins artistic forces with figurative artist Margaret Voterakis for a new exhibition at Modern Times, ‘Utopian Purs...
Sasha Aarons

Homes

Emily Green's Joyous Family Home, Filled With Local Makers’ Work

The fun and colour-filled Reservoir family home of designer and Pinky's store co-owner, Emily Green, and teacher Louis Turner.

On The Market

An Interior Designer’s Glamorous Victorian Pad Hits The Market!

Chelsea Hing’s apartment in an 1890s Italianate mansion in St Kilda East is up for sale. This is *the one*!

Studio Visit

The Award-Winning Student Ceramicist Suspending Time In Clay

Bell Carver is the recipient of the inaugural Shelley Simpson Ceramics Prize (and $10,000 in prize money!) - a new award for emerging cerami...

News

Patricia Piccinini And Alpha60 Join Forces On A New Collaboration

The celebrated Australian artist and local fashion legends launch a new series of textiles titled ‘Hugs’, which are now installe...
Sponsored

News

A New Book About The Wonderful, Colourful World Of Ken Done Is Here

The legendary Australian artist is celebrated with a new book by Thames & Hudson, ‘Ken Done: Art, Design, Life’.

Art

11 Affordable, Emerging Painters You Should Know!

From landscapes and surrealism to portraits and abstract art, these local artists are going BIG places.

Creative People

Behind The Scenes Of 'Rone In Geelong’ – Opening This Weekend!

See a retrospective of artist Rone's work to date at Geelong Gallery from Saturday February 27 to Sunday May 16, 2021.

Family

An Honest Conversation On Single Parenting By Choice + Donor Conception With Takeawei Ceramics Founder, Chela Edmunds

Chela Edmunds of Takeawei ceramics shares her story of becoming a mother to 18-month-old Ocean via sperm donor and IVF.

News

'Giant' by Evi O Opens At Saint Cloche

Artist Evi O showcases her largest paintings to date in new exhibition Giant, on now at Saint Cloche.

News

An Abstract Art Biennale Celebrating Female Artists From Victoria

See ‘Of Colour and Light’ – an exhibition of 50 emerging and established female artists – on now at West End Art Space.

Interiors

A Social Sydney Home Elevated By Garden Views + On Point Decoration!

Following an architectural renovation by Welsh + Major, celebrated design studio Arent&Pyke elevate this Sydney home with a stunning array o...

Stays

This New Byron Bay Hinterland Accomodation Is Equal Parts Luxury + Rustic

Book your stay at The Perch – a beautifully renovated 1970s property in Bangalow, NSW.

View Comments

More Small Biz Wisdom

Small Business

How To Build Community Around Your Business

How investing in Community has been the secret to success for Australia's favourite independent bookseller, Readings.
Fiona Killackey

Small Business

Demystifying Supply Chains + Logistics With T2

Overwhelmed by these two business buzzwords? This case study with the legends who turned a single shop in Fitzroy into a global powerhouse s...
Fiona Killackey

Small Business

Scaling Up A Small Business, With Firecracker Event

Our small business expert, Fiona Killackey, chats to caterer Cassie Lucas about scaling up, feeling the fear and doing it anyway!
Fiona Killackey

This Week

News

A Group Show Combining Ceramics + Still-Life Under One Roof!

Ceramicist Grace Brown joins artistic forces with figurative artist Margaret Voterakis for a new exhibition at Modern Times, ‘Utopian Purs...
Sasha Aarons

News

A New Book About The Wonderful, Colourful World Of Ken Done Is Here

The legendary Australian artist is celebrated with a new book by Thames & Hudson, ‘Ken Done: Art, Design, Life’.

Homes

Emily Green's Joyous Family Home, Filled With Local Makers’ Work

The fun and colour-filled Reservoir family home of designer and Pinky's store co-owner, Emily Green, and teacher Louis Turner.

News

Patricia Piccinini And Alpha60 Join Forces On A New Collaboration

The celebrated Australian artist and local fashion legends launch a new series of textiles titled ‘Hugs’, which are now installe...
Sponsored

Sustainable Homes

A Former Corner Store Turned Sustainable Family Home

A dilapidated, Federation-era shopfront is transformed into a truly unique, energy efficient home by CplusC Architectural Workshop.

On The Market

An Interior Designer’s Glamorous Victorian Pad Hits The Market!

Chelsea Hing’s apartment in an 1890s Italianate mansion in St Kilda East is up for sale. This is *the one*!

Interiors

A Social Sydney Home Elevated By Garden Views + On Point Decoration!

Following an architectural renovation by Welsh + Major, celebrated design studio Arent&Pyke elevate this Sydney home with a stunning array o...

News

'Giant' by Evi O Opens At Saint Cloche

Artist Evi O showcases her largest paintings to date in new exhibition Giant, on now at Saint Cloche.

Family

An Honest Conversation On Single Parenting By Choice + Donor Conception With Takeawei Ceramics Founder, Chela Edmunds

Chela Edmunds of Takeawei ceramics shares her story of becoming a mother to 18-month-old Ocean via sperm donor and IVF.

Stays

This New Byron Bay Hinterland Accomodation Is Equal Parts Luxury + Rustic

Book your stay at The Perch – a beautifully renovated 1970s property in Bangalow, NSW.

Art

11 Affordable, Emerging Painters You Should Know!

From landscapes and surrealism to portraits and abstract art, these local artists are going BIG places.

Architecture

This Lower North Shore Family House Feels Like A Permanent Vacation!

Two grand palm trees on entry provide a strong identity for the Whisper House, designed by Manolev Architects.

News

An Abstract Art Biennale Celebrating Female Artists From Victoria

See ‘Of Colour and Light’ – an exhibition of 50 emerging and established female artists – on now at West End Art Space.

Creative People

Behind The Scenes Of 'Rone In Geelong’ – Opening This Weekend!

See a retrospective of artist Rone's work to date at Geelong Gallery from Saturday February 27 to Sunday May 16, 2021.

Studio Visit

The Award-Winning Student Ceramicist Suspending Time In Clay

Bell Carver is the recipient of the inaugural Shelley Simpson Ceramics Prize (and $10,000 in prize money!) - a new award for emerging cerami...

More Small Biz Wisdom

Small Business

How To Build Community Around Your Business

How investing in Community has been the secret to success for Australia's favourite independent bookseller, Readings.
Fiona Killackey

Small Business

Demystifying Supply Chains + Logistics With T2

Overwhelmed by business buzzwords? This case study with the legends who turned a single shop in Fitzroy into a global powerhouse should clea...
Fiona Killackey

Small Business

Scaling Up A Small Business, With Firecracker Event

Our small business expert, Fiona Killackey, chats to caterer Cassie Lucas about scaling up, feeling the fear and doing it anyway!
Fiona Killackey

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.