Skip to main content


Insights And Synergies At The Annual New Frontiers Networking Event

Insights And Synergies At The Annual New Frontiers Networking Event

By New Frontiers blog

Insights And Synergies At The Annual New Frontiers Networking Event

New Frontiers Phase 2 is an extensive six-month programme that requires a full-time commitment. The New Frontiers National Networking event is our way of celebrating those who make it through to the end. Individuals from organisations all across Ireland joined us to celebrate this year’s 170 graduates from across 18 locations. Passing through the tough selection process and then proceeding to excel through the programme, these graduates deserve to be celebrated.

This year, the event was held in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Athlone. The graduates had a day packed with insights – there were three panels hosted by our MC, Conor Carmody, as well as breakout sessions where the founders could discuss and analyse the challenges they may face in their business. There was also, of course, time for the participants to mingle and meet all those that took the same terrifying but riveting step in their start up journey.

Our thanks to the following alumni and supporters of the programme for agreeing to be on our panels:

New Frontiers – alumni panel

  • Emma Meehan, Precision Sports Technology
  • Nipun Katharua, Smile Genius Dental
  • Shana Chu, Tailr

The Funding Horizon – panel discussion

  • Anna-Marie Turley, Enterprise Ireland
  • Christine Charleton, Local Enterprise Offices
  • Gianni Matera, Growing Capital
  • Rosemary Gallagher, HBAN

Building Scale – fireside chat

  • John Killian, Greyscout
  • Sinead Crowther, Soothing Solutions

The annual networking event is a regular feature of the programme. Recent graduates from every programme around the country are invited to a day of informative insights and – importantly – opportunities to network with alumni from other locations.

The New Frontiers programme is delivered at 18 locations nationwide. Beyond networking, benefits of the programme include expert-led workshops, mentoring, incubation space, access to R&D capabilities, and a tax-free allowance during Phase 2. It’s the ideal programme for early-stage founders who have yet to successfully scale a startup and most sectors are eligible. Read more about the features of the programme and eligibility criteria.

Follow us on LinkedIn to keep up with news from the programme and our current and past participants. You can also subscribe to our LinkedIn newsletter.

About the author

Ishita Gupta

Ishita Gupta

Ishita is studying Marketing, Innovation and Technology at Dublin City University. She currently works as an Intern in Enterprise Ireland's Entrepreneurship & HPSU Operations Department. As part of her role of supporting the New Frontiers National Programme Manager, Paula Carroll, she was part of the team that organised this year's fantastic national networking event.
New Frontiers Celebrates 10 Years Of Supporting Innovative Irish Startups

New Frontiers Celebrates 10 Years Of Supporting Innovative Irish Startups

By New Frontiers blog

New Frontiers Celebrates 10 Years Of Supporting Innovative Irish Startups

One of the benefits of the New Frontiers programme – particularly Phase 2 – is the access to networking. Whether it’s exploring synergies within your programme cohort or more formal networking events, programme alumni agree that New Frontiers gives them lots of opportunities to build relationships far and wide.

Although interrupted by the pandemic, an annual networking event has been a regular feature of the programme over the past decade. This year it was finally back after the hiatus! Recent graduates from every programme around the country were invited to a day of informative insights and – importantly – opportunities to network with alumni from other locations. (To see a recap of the event, hop over to our YouTube channel. We will also be adding interviews with some of the participants in the coming weeks, so don’t forget to subscribe to the channel!)

This year’s New Frontiers Annual Networking Event was held in Mullingar on 23rd March. Three panels were held, hosted by our MC, Conor Carmody, with a lunch break providing valuable and timely sustenance over chats and introductions. There was also a breakout session (allowing participants to discuss their 2023 priorities in small groups) and plenty of other opportunities for attendees to mingle and exchange contact information.

Our thanks to the following alumni and supporters of the programme for agreeing to be on our panels:

New Frontiers, 10 Years Growing – alumni panel

  • Kevin McCaffrey, Tr3dent
  • Yvonne Comer, Rugby Smarts
  • Deborah Brock, Nua Fertility
  • Raj Lyons Chohan, EV Energy

The Funding Horizon – panel discussion 

  • Chris Burge, Spark Crowdfunding
  • Christine Charlton, LEO Westmeath
  • Brian Sheridan, Enterprise Ireland

Building Scale – fireside chat

  • Feargal Brady, No Frixion
  • Rory O’Connor, Scurri

This was a special year for the New Frontiers family as the programme is 10 years old. Since 2013, New Frontiers has supported an incredible 5,000 early-stage entrepreneurs in a wide variety of sectors, with 1,700 going on to Phase 2. New Frontiers startups have raised many millions in funding (in fact, New Frontiers alumni made up a significant portion of successful Competitive Start Fund applicants – this fund has recently been replaced by PSSF, which we will be writing about soon) and created jobs all around Ireland.

Today, the programme is delivered at 18 locations nationwide. Beyond networking, benefits of the programme include training, mentoring, incubation space, access to research and development capabilities, and a financial stipend during Phase 2 (€15,000 tax-free). It’s the ideal programme for first-time entrepreneurs of any age and most sectors are eligible. You can see more features of the programme and eligibility criteria on our About page.

Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to keep up with news from the programme and our current and past participants!

About the author


Scarlet Bierman

Scarlet Bierman is a content consultant, commissioned by Enterprise Ireland to fulfil the role of Editor of the New Frontiers website. She is an expert in designing and executing ethical marketing strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence.

Take The Fear Out Of Networking & Start Making Real Connections New Frontiers

How To Take The Fear Out Of Networking & Start Making Real Connections

By New Frontiers blog

Take The Fear Out Of Networking & Start Making Real Connections New Frontiers

Networking is a critical component of building a successful startup. As a founder, you’ll need to connect with potential investors, adopters, collaborators, customers, suppliers, mentors, and partners in order to grow your business. These relationships are the lifeblood of a growing business, because, in the words of Porter Gale, “Your network is your net worth.”

Networking is one of those tactics you’ll find on every founder’s to-do list, yet few of us do it really well. While you may dream of sweeping into every room like an extrovert on a sugar high riding a unicorn, the cold reality is that the typical business person finds networking intimidating and overwhelming. If you’re also new to the startup world, this feeling is only magnified.

In this blog post, we’ll share some tips and best practices for startup founders looking to improve their networking skills. To help us in this task, we solicited some inside tips from Jane Manzor of Manzor Marketing, who is one of the experts that regularly trains New Frontiers participants.

Top tips for good quality networking

TL;DR? If you’re looking for a quick fix for your networking strategy, here are our top tips for a winning networking strategy:

  1. Know your audience: Research the attendees and organisations that will be present. Tailor your message and approach to each person you meet.
  2. Have a clear elevator pitch: Clearly communicate your value proposition and differentiators. Be prepared to adjust it based on who you are talking to.
  3. Be authentic: Be yourself and don’t try to be something you’re not. People can tell when you’re not being genuine, and it can hurt your credibility.
  4. Listen more than you talk: Ask open-ended questions and listen actively to what the other person is saying. This will help you build relationships and gain insights.
  5. Follow up: After the event, follow up with the people you met. Send a personalised message and, if appropriate, set up a follow-up meeting or call to discuss potential opportunities.
  6. Be patient: Networking is a long-term game. Building strong relationships takes time, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. Keep attending events and building your network over time.
  7. Provide value: Look for opportunities to help the people you meet. Offer to make introductions, share resources, or provide insights that might be useful to them. By providing value, you’ll build trust and strengthen your network.
  8. Build: Remember, networking is about building relationships, so focus on creating genuine connections with the people you meet.

Who’s afraid of networking events?

For startup founders, Jane says the main thing is to simply put yourself out there. There are lots of reasons to feel nervous about this as we (nearly) all have a reluctance to venture outside of our comfort zones. Maybe you’re new to networking, get awkward around new people, or feel the tug of imposter syndrome. It can be comforting to remember that most of the people there will be feeling the exact same way!

How to bring your networking a-game

Ready to dive in? Jane recommends that you, “Establish your ‘Why?’ before anything else. You need to understand what you are selling, what your brand proposition is, and what you want out of the networking opportunity. As an early-stage promoter, you may be looking for your first customers or for investment. Think about who the people you are trying to reach are and where they are likely to be spending their time. Those are the events you need to target first.”

Beware of jumping into networking before you have adequately prepared. Jane tells us, “I started going to networking events a little too early. I hadn’t finished working on my Why? and I felt unprepared. So, I took a step back and got all that clear in my mind, working on my ‘Three Ps’ of prepare, practice, pitch. Then I started networking again and it felt completely different.”

Jane’s Three Ps of networking

You can, of course, rock up to an event without any planning whatsoever. You could also set sail for America with no map, compass, or clue how boats work. But there’s also a good chance you won’t ever arrive! If you prefer method over madness, try Jane’s approach:


Work on clarifying your customer, your brand, and your why. Make a shortlist of the networking opportunities you want to go after (you won’t be able to go to every single networking event, so prioritise the ones with the most potential). You’ll want to adapt your approach to the type of meeting/event you are going to, so make sure you have a plan. Design and print your business cards.


The elevator pitch isn’t just a theoretical exercise. If someone asked, “What do you do?” would you be able to give a succinct and clear explanation of what your company is all about? You should be able to sum it up in a few sentences by way of introduction. Practice in front of the mirror, your friends, and your colleagues. But remember, practicing doesn’t mean memorising every element of your pitch – do that and your introduction could sound robotic, if not downright creepy!


If you feel anxious about attending these events, it’s a great idea to go along with someone you know, such as a peer or colleague. But don’t stick to them like glue. Once you’re in the room, it’s time to divide and conquer. We’ve all seen groups of friend/colleagues stay together for an entire event, but this is counterproductive as they don’t tend to interact with anyone else and no one feels like trying to break into their circle.

If you manage to stick to the Three Ps, you’ll hopefully come away from the event with two or three business cards of people you are genuinely excited to have a longer conversation with.

Invest in physical business cards

If you’re serious about networking, get yourself some quality business cards. While there is a move by many to use digital business cards, some of which are very cool, a physical card is a cost-effective investment. You can use options in card type, printing methods, and finish to create a card that truly reflects your brand. There are lots of eco-friendly materials and ink products available now to ensure your cards are sustainable. If you’re looking for a way to really stand out, get inspiration from the many fun and creative business cards that have been created by brands over the years. Because they are a physical object, there’s a good chance people will hold on to them, keeping you top of mind. Oh, and they’re quite handy for giving someone your phone number and email address :)

If you hate the idea of physical cards, check out the wide variety of digital solutions out there, which range from phone-to-phone contact sharing to personal landing pages to lead generation sites.

Which events should you go to?

Networking opportunities come in every shape and size. Whether you’re looking for a pure networking experience or prefer to network more casually at talks, shows, conferences, and trade fairs, it’s important to find what’s right for you.

You may favour bigger or smaller events, ones attracting a local or international crowd, or centred around a niche sector versus general business interests. Do your research and profile who is likely to attend the different events on your radar so you can pick the most suitable ones. You can often look at the guest list in advance, allowing you to prep further by identifying the people you most want to speak to.

Organisations such as the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), Enterprise Ireland, InterTradeIreland, ISME, and the SFA hold all kinds of events across the year. There are also trade associations operating in niche sectors or industries that host events. If you are bootstrapping, the good news is that lots of networking opportunities are free. While some organisations such as the LEO Women in Business Networks, Chambers of Commerce, or BNI chapters have membership fees, you can often attend one or two events as a guest first.

Jane also recommends conferences for those on a budget, as there are lots of free conferences around the country, many of which are sector specific. Once you know how to get value from the events you’re attending, it makes sense to go to paid networking events or join membership organisations.

Final networking takeaways

If you feel underprepared, don’t panic. It isn’t usually possible to communicate everything you want to during a short introduction, so just keep things simple. Better to leave people intrigued and wanting to know more than to drown them in thousands of facts. When you follow up and meet them again, you’ll have time to expand on some of the details.

If social anxiety is your biggest roadblock, Jane has the following advice. “Fear of the unknown is a big problem in networking. How to break the ice? How to get talking to someone? How to relax? Some easy ways to get over this are to introduce yourself to a group rather than an individual (join an open circle, say hi, and take it from there). When you first approach someone, use casual social openings to strike up a conversation (for example, compliment someone’s handbag or mention a recent sporting event). Whatever you do, don’t just march up and hand someone a business card!”

If you’re not enjoying these events because of the pressure to sell, Jane has some great insights. “Everyone is selling at networking events. You can relieve some of the pressure by focussing on finding out about other people instead of pitching to them. Talk less and listen more. Ask for the person’s business card. You’ll typically have a chance to talk about yourself at some point, and you’ll discover if there are possible synergies there. Make sure to follow up and find another opportunity to connect so that you can build the relationship from there.”

Networking can be a daunting task, but it can also be a powerful tool for achieving your startup goals. By staying authentic, looking for genuine synergies, and giving value, you can build strong relationships with people who are pivotal to your startup journey. Networking is a long-term game, so be patient and persistent. It takes time and effort to build strong relationships, but the rewards are huge!

About the author

scarlet-merrillScarlet Bierman

Scarlet Bierman is a content consultant, commissioned by Enterprise Ireland to fulfil the role of Editor of the New Frontiers website. She is an expert in designing and executing ethical marketing strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence.

coworking vs traditional office - new frontiers programme Enterprise Ireland

Coworking space vs the traditional office – which will you choose?

By New Frontiers blog

coworking vs traditional office - new frontiers programme Enterprise Ireland

Congratulations! If you’re thinking about expanding your workspace then you must be enjoying some startup success right now. You have secured enough customers to have the confidence to make the big move and you want to be fully prepared to take on any extra work. It’s an exciting time, but important decisions need to be made!

With coworking spaces popping up all over Ireland, it is no longer a given that a startup should have its own private office. There are advantages and disadvantages to both scenarios and which work environment you should choose all depends on your specific needs and priorities. However, we can provide you with some helpful food for thought to guide you through your decision-making process.

Coworking spaces as a budget-friendly option

The main draws for opting for a coworking space are flexibility and cost-saving. Renting private office space is a big commitment and cost for any business, but the return of Celtic Tiger pricing is exacerbating the issue. If you’re looking to rent office space in the capital in 2019-20, you can expect boom-era prices at over €60 per square foot! This doesn’t take into account the cost of insurance, rates, utility bills, cleaning services or the added expense of furniture and technology.

On the other hand, coworking providers offer more affordable hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, and annual rates, so you can find a payment option that suits you with a predictable, fixed cost. Dogpatch Labs, for example, is a popular choice for its impressive facilities and is located at the heart of the city centre. They charge €200 per month to hot desk and €400 per month for a dedicated desk. Included in this cost is all utility bills, all service charges, access to meeting rooms, the kitchen, fibre-based internet, the receptionist, as well as refreshments. Another high-quality coworking space is The Tara Building, which keeps a busy calendar of events for its members to get involved in and offers a private, lockable office at €350 per desk. It’s worth shopping around and find the best fit for you.

Compromising on security and productivity

There is an ongoing debate as to whether coworking spaces end up costing businesses with regards to security and/or productivity. While there are advantages to working alongside other business professionals, it can end up being more of a hindrance than a benefit if your work style doesn’t sync well with an open-plan coworking environment.

Privacy is scarce in coworking spaces. If you are hot-desking, you will literally have no idea who you will be sitting beside from day to day. By relinquishing control of fundamental elements of your work environment – such as noise levels, atmosphere, space and seating arrangements – you take the risk that every day is different and not necessarily in a good way. While we all like to think everyone is as courteous and considerate as we are, this is not a given and dealing with these issues in a coworking environment is not as straightforward as it would be in your own private office.

Apart from the potential distractions that come with sharing your work environment, security is another concern. Consider the kinds of discussions you will need to have on a regular basis with your employees, investors, advisors, and clients. How often do you need to discuss sensitive information? Determine if you’re happy for this information to be potentially overheard by other businesses. If your only concern is the weekly meeting, then coworking could still be a good option for you. All you need to do is book the meeting rooms which are available in most coworking spaces.

How beneficial is networking for your business?

If you are just starting out and find that growing your network of business contacts is proving more of a challenge than you expected, deciding to work in a coworking space could be the perfect solution. Coworking spaces are a hub of creative activity. These unique ecosystems enable business professionals, with their various skills and levels of experience, to come together and create coworking communities.

The best thing about this is that most of these companies will also be startups. By entering a coworking environment, you have instant access to entrepreneurs who are going through all the same trials and tribulations as you are! You will have the opportunity to learn from each other, share your stories and act as each other’s sounding boards. The invaluable business opportunities that can be fostered in this kind of environment are limitless.

Many coworking spaces capitalise on this attractive networking opportunity by holding events, primarily for the purpose of aiding the development of supportive business relationships. These can vary from a simple breakfast spread to yoga sessions to happy hour to guest speakers. You’ll easily find an event that will suit you and attract the type of people you would prefer to work with. But if you want our advice, we say dive right in and try them all! You never know who you could meet and how far that relationship could take you and your business.

About the author

scarlet-merrillScarlet Bierman

Scarlet Bierman is a content consultant, commissioned by Enterprise Ireland to fulfil the role of Editor of the New Frontiers website. She is an expert in designing and executing ethical marketing strategies and passionate about helping businesses to develop a quality online presence.

Starting up how to beat entrepreneurial isolation

Starting up: how to beat entrepreneurial isolation

By New Frontiers blog

Starting up how to beat entrepreneurial isolation

My business was set up to help those who might be suffering from social isolation, and yet that is exactly what happened to me in the first 12 months of my startup. Since identifying it and talking to others, I have found that this is an issue that can and does affect a lot of business owners, especially those in the startup stage.

I want to share with you how it happened to me, but more importantly how I identified it and managed to overcome it, just before I threw in the towel.

The unsuccessful success

Like most startups, money was limited when I began planning my business venture. Therefore, working from home was the perfect and only solution. I was well aware that running a business was going to be tough. I’d heard all the cautionary advice – getting my business off the ground would take longer than I planned, all the while costing me more money; and I would be working longer hours than ever before, with no holidays and little or no pay initially!

I went ahead anyway, taking over the children’s playroom and had a fantastic afternoon in Ikea buying all the must-haves for my home office. It was what I had always dreamt of doing when I used to commute to Dublin every day for my previous job – what could be better than working from home! With the home office looking like something off Pinterest, I was good to go and got stuck into putting together my business plan and getting ready to launch my business.

Soon launch day arrived and my business – Count Her In – was officially up and running. I worked tirelessly from the minute the children left for school until they came home in the afternoon. I rarely left the office, trying to fit as much as possible into my working days, and then starting again once the children were asleep. It worked and soon we got great traction, with membership steadily rising and fantastic feedback from members and the local media.

But something wasn’t right, I just wasn’t feeling the buzz I thought I would. I didn’t see anything as being a success and habitually focused on all the things I hadn’t managed to get done that day. With no one to run anything past, I mulled ideas and decisions over constantly in my head, even after making them – what if I had just made a big mistake, what if, what if…

The Mill Enterprise Hub

The weeks rolled into months. The business was thriving and yet, I was struggling to the point that I really didn’t know if I could continue. I couldn’t understand why. Christmas was fast approaching, so I decided to take a week off and think about things. I closed the door to the office and I didn’t set foot in it again! Over the Christmas period I had family and friends over, the house was bustling, and I suddenly realised why I was feeling so down about my business – I was alone and I had been for 12 months.

Every day, all day I was at home in my office, working hard, talking to people on the phone and via email, but not face to face. I had gone from working in a building with over 1,000 employees and managing a large team to being on my own. I now realised if something didn’t change then I would give up. I could not face going back to the office, and I didn’t. A friend had previously told me about The Mill Enterprise Hub in Drogheda, a great facility for startup companies where you could rent affordable office space or even just a hot desk, which was more suitable for me being on my own.

As soon as Christmas was over, I went and paid them a visit and knew, straight after walking in, that I needed to be there. There was such a buzz and energy about the place, exactly what had been missing in my home office. I managed to persuade The Mill to let me move in the very next morning, and I have been there ever since. Starting off with a hot desk in a shared office, and – now that we have grown and there are 3 of us – moving into our own office space a few weeks ago. Moving out of my home office gave both my business and me a HUGE boost.

Making simple changes

Moving into a facility like The Mill is not possible for all, but I believe the most important thing for anyone in the early stages of a business, or for someone who runs a business single-handedly, is to not allow themselves to become so engrossed in working hard that they become isolated to the point at which it begins impacting them and the performance of their business.

In January, I also made some other changes which again have really helped:

Networking events

I have made the most of all local events and some further afield, most recently making my way to Clare and Waterford. But even simply popping into something for half an hour during the day that gives you a break from the desk can be invaluable. You never know who you will meet and what impact they could have on your business or you on theirs.

Business inspiration

I have become great friends with a fantastic local businesswoman, and we try to meet on a regular basis to chat about our respective businesses. This has really proved invaluable. It is important to be able to share the more detailed aspects of your business with someone you trust. It is fantastic when you are struggling with something and need to talk it through, especially when it is with someone who understands what it is like to run a business. We happen to be at very different stages – my business is still very new whereas her business is much more established – but we have learnt that we still have the same types of issues, the same doubts and insecurities.

Coffee shops!

I love coffee. It’s my treat to myself when I get a nice coffee and now they are popping up everywhere. There is so much choice and most have free Wi-Fi, so even though I am now based in an office with a couple of others, sometimes I still head out the door with my laptop and go to a local coffee shop to work for an hour. Again, the buzz about the place just gives me an extra boost. I also realise how lucky I am to have a job that allows me that freedom, so that in itself gives me a reason to work that bit harder to ensure I can continue doing it.

The biggest piece of advice I can give anyone from what I have learnt is to listen to your own advice. What do you tell those around you? Probably something like look after yourself, ask for help, you need a little break. Next time you give out some advice just actually think about the last time you took your own advice.

About the author

Georgina McKennaGeorgina McKenna New Frontiers

Georgina McKenna is a New Frontiers participant and the founder of startup Count Her In, a free online and offline social community for women. With an interest in mental health, Count Her In is a response to the difficulties of true communication in modern society.

Georgina worked for 12 years in a multinational corporation, enjoying the energy and buzz of being a project manager and senior finance shared service leader. However, it had always been a lifelong dream to run her own business, so when she was made redundant she took the opportunity to finally follow her true passion.

Growing your business the value of networking

Growing your business: the value of networking

By New Frontiers blog

Growing your business the value of networking

For me, the idea of networking conjures up images of sharp shooting business professionals bedecked with a ready smile and the catchy opener: So, what do you do? They ‘listen’ as you tell your story, nodding their head robotically; interjecting with the occasional Ah ha…, Very interesting… and I see… You, knowing full well that within 20 seconds they had made up their minds whether or not you were ‘of interest’ and if not were already scanning the room over your shoulder for their next target.

But good networking, effective networking, should never be like this. It’s about being in the right room, with the right people, at the right time. It’s about listening and being listened to, and of course finding new contacts that will help you and your business grow.

Boost your network, boost your net worth!

From the time I started my own journey on New Frontiers, we were constantly encouraged to grow our networks and share contacts with our fellow participants. This proactive and collaborative approach broke down many personal barriers I had to networking, and allowed me to critically analyse and recognise its potential value.

My favourite story was of the entrepreneur who, after a long, unsuccessful day of pitching to potential investors was feeling deflated and defeated as she boarded the train home. Wanting nothing more than to be left in peace, she initially ignored the chit chat advances from the passenger who sat opposite. However, not to appear rude, she entered into general conversation and it was not long before the discussion fell into the familiar territory of: So, what do you do? Telling her story and details of her own startup came easily in the relaxing ambience of the train carriage. By the time she had reached her destination, the entrepreneur had won over her fellow passenger – an investor – and landed a €200k windfall for her emerging business. The moral of the story… networking can happen anywhere, so always be pitch-ready!

OK, so this fairy-tale doesn’t happen to everyone; but it does happen. Which is why I want to share my essentials to help kick-start your networking habit!

Top networking tips

Get (old school) social

I soon realised that ‘liking’ someone or connecting via social media was not really enough to boost my business contacts. Don’t get me wrong, social media networking is excellent for creating a buzz around you and your brand. You can target your message to a particular audience, in a certain location, with a specific interest – and that’s great. However, quality beats quantity and there is nothing better than some good old fashioned ‘3D’ networking – going face-to-face.

Body language is key here. A good handshake, an open smile and being able to look someone in the eye can do more for your business than a solitary click on a keyboard.

How to find events

If I’m honest, as soon as I started looking for events I realised I could be attending one every day of the week. So, when it comes to events, be selective. Think hard about whether or not they suitable to your chosen field and if will they be attended by the kinds of people who can help you or who you can collaborate with.

The best ways to find quality events to attend are:

  1. Join business networks: Women Mean Business (WMB), Network Ireland, Business Network International (BNI), etc.
  2. Attend events organised by your Local Enterprise Office (LEO)
  3. Look up conferences relevant to your area
  4. Business media events: Sunday Business Post, Business Independent, etc.
  5. Breakfast Events: Google Breakfast Meetings, Image Magazine Breakfast Networks
  6. Business Organisations events: Enterprise Ireland, Small Firms Association (SFA), Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC), etc.

How to prepare

Before you attend an event, do some research on those who are attending. Find out which companies will be represented and by whom. Many a time, I would loiter at the registration desk (looking for my name badge) to get the first names of those attending. It’s also handy if their job title is listed.

Be pitch perfect! I don’t mean a 15 minute spiel on who you are and what your company is all about. Have your business down to 30 seconds maximum! Just enough to cover a walk to the coffee table, or when you first sit down. Enough to trigger interest and to invite that all important response: Really? Tell me more…  It could go something like this:

Brainwave is an emerging technology that allows you to record your ideas while you are out and about and while you sleep (key phrase: emerging technology)

AgriKids is an award-winning farm safety educational platform for children (key phrase: award-winning)

Scruffy Wuffies is a mobile pet grooming parlour and we’ve just launched our first franchise (key phrase: franchise)

Having your ‘elevator pitch’ ready and primed can make a good networking event, great.

How to behave

If you have your pitch on standby and you have done your pre-event research all that is left to do is listen!

When you approach someone, it’s always nice to extend your hand or offer to get someone a coffee or tea. It’s open and friendly and offers some welcome distraction from the business talk! Then, over a cuppa, it’s always nice to ask the person something about themselves: Have you come far?.., Where are you based?.., There are some good speakers here today… If you launch straight into the business talk, you do yourself out of some very valuable small talk opportunities. People will not share if they feel they are been grilled or ‘interviewed’ from the get-go.

As the conversation progresses, or if the other person initiates it, then by all means it’s time to talk business. If the conversation has gone well and some synergies and opportunities have been unearthed, make sure you leave with their business card (always better you get theirs as well as the other way around).

Post event

If you made some good contacts and identified some real opportunities, make sure you follow up with an email or a phone call and by all means connect on social media.

If you listened well you may also have found some useful contacts for other people in your own network. Do pass on the details and share, this spirit of collaboration will always find its way back to you, that’s business karma!

The art of networking is definitely a habit worth forming! It’s not always easy, but nothing worth having ever is.

About the author

Alma Jordan AgriKids News frontiers alumnaAlma Jordan

Alma Jordan is a New Frontiers alumna and the founder of AgriKids, a farm safety educational platform for children. The company works to positively engage, educate and empower children to become Farm Safety Ambassadors.

The genesis of AgriKids was largely prompted by the many farm deaths that occurred in 2014. It was the worst year on record for farm safety in Ireland. That year, 30 people perished on Irish farms, of whom five were children. With the deaths of two young children in quick succession, the topic of farm safety and how to address it weighed heavily on Alma’s mind.

Alma and her family run a farm in Co. Meath. Their main enterprises consist of thoroughbred horses, tillage, beef cattle and poultry. A keen equestrian in her younger days, Alma competed in many national events in the fields of eventing and showjumping.