A Shared Experience

It was an excellent Chiltern Chamber breakfast meeting on June 24th, there was a good turnout with people eager to talk about the news that had just been delivered regarding the UK’s vote to exit the EU. The conversations taking place amongst the attendees were mainly centred on the lasting effect the decision will have on their business. Yet I came out of the meeting having learned more from the others about their business than they had either intended for me to learn or from previous discussions we had.

Paul Batey discussing Brexit resultI must confess this article was originally intended to be a supportive one for our members, offering connections, networking, expertise and assistance from the Chiltern Chamber of Commerce. Somehow though, it was difficult to put that down on the page, somehow it just wouldn’t come out and my fingers couldn’t type. There was a niggling kind of feeling, probably buried in my subconscious, that I was missing an important point that had to be dealt with first. I knew only that the niggling thought had started in that very room at that breakfast meeting.

Then it occurred to me, through all of the conversations taking place that morning we had all learned a lot more about each other and our businesses a lot quicker than we normally do at these meetings. Nobody seemed too distressed and distraught at the referendum result, all networking happily and quite a few phone numbers were exchanged and leads for business were shared by the end of the meeting.

Like a sudden light bulb switching on (yes it felt like a ping of realisation) the answer was glaringly obvious: there was a common subject matter that helped break down barriers and opened discussion around their own business. Everyone was sharing details about their own experience and business that they normally wouldn’t discuss without even thinking about it. New attendees felt welcomed into the group and could engage with all present without having to worry about what to talk about.

…a shared subject matter is an excellent way to interact with others.

In fact, it blew the normal business elevator pitches delivered at these meetings clear out of the water. Most people will agree that networking is both a useful and sometimes essential tool that allows you to make contacts, connections and even friends to you and your business and there was a lot of that happening.

Before you batter my door down with pitchforks and flaming torches I am not suggesting that uncertainty is good for business or that the decision to leave the EU is the right one for the UK. I am also not comparing the attendance at a networking event to starting a business or dealing with EU referendum fallout, but it was poignant for me and unbeknown to the group at the time that discussing the effect on their business was a unifying subject matter, a silver lining if you will.

Ultimately, two main things were apparent from this meeting, a shared subject matter is an excellent way to interact with others (seems obvious now, yet surprisingly difficult for those not used to small talk and networking) and also our elevator pitches probably need a little bit of work! We may introduce a regular subject or theme to future meetings with the Chiltern Chamber of Commerce in an attempt to replicate this energised meeting, so watch this space.

Also, please remember that the Chiltern Chamber of Commerce supports local business through Networking, expertise and connections. (you knew I’d get it in there!)

Paul Batey