By now, you hopefully agree with me that networking is an essential part of your career development. So now let me ask you this: where do you go to network? Finding the right place for a networking meeting is not easy (see Networking Venues in London), but I’m here to help!
I have created a brand new system for rating a venue (restaurant, bar or coffee shop) according to its AWE factor. The AWE-someness of a place is a useful tool that you can use when planning a networking meeting and it’s up to to you to pick the location. Very handy, particularly when you are meeting in an area that you don’t know.
This rating system (only in London, for now) will be useful not just for networking but also for work-like meetings or events.
As you know, I love networking and I love going out. Whether it be for a drink for two or a dinner for ten, I tend to be the organiser (and I spend a good amount of time and effort to pick the perfect spot). Not to mention I have put together quite a deal of larger events. So who better to evaluate the AWE-someness of a potential networking venue than Miss Maven Muse?
Each AWE-some element represents an important factor to consider when picking a place to meet for your networking meeting:
I will explain each one in detail and provide an example below. In subsequent posts I will dive in and evaluate places I’ve been to (along with pictures taken from my new camera!).
Ambience: The venue can be neither too loud (you want to be heard) nor too quiet (you don’t want to be overheard). It’s hard enough explaining your story to someone you just met without having the person sitting at the table next to you hear it as well.
Example: A few years ago I was at a cafe waiting for friends. Seated next to me was a duo having an animated discussion. I quickly ascertained that one was a recruiter, the other a job-seeker. Needless to say I learned all about his skill set and to this day I still remember their conversation. The venue was conducive to talking, but it was too quiet, with no background noise to partially cover conversations or hidden coves for private conversations.
Wait: this element is important – how long must you wait for a table, to get your drinks/meal, and to pay your bill? You want to make sure you can easily find a spot to comfortably sit down and that you don’t have to wait 20 minutes in line to order your flat white (valuable time that could otherwise be spent talking). Nor do you want to wait another 20 minutes for your bill (someone is always in a rush to leave for their next appointment).
Example: I recently had breakfast at a restaurant in Canary Wharf (which will remain unnamed), and I noticed two guys at a table near me clearly having a networking meeting. One of the guys ordered a full English Breakfast (fried eggs, sausage, beans, etc) and after a long wait, it arrived cold. He tried calling over the but he never arrived, so the English Breakfast guy had to stand up and ask the waiter, who was standing idly at the bar, to replace his breakfast. Not the kind of thing you want to deal with when you are networking.
Experience: This refers to the overall experience. How conducive was the venue to your networking? Was it expensive? How was the quality of the food, drinks or coffee? How was the service?
Example: High-street coffee chains located on busy shopping roads are not the best places to network. They are crowded with long lines, it’s difficult to find a table, and they are loud. If you walk one street up or go around the corner, chances are you will find another coffee shop (possibly an independent one) with less noisy people and where the barista has more time to make you a proper cup of coffee.
Bottom line: evaluate the AWE-someness of a venue before picking a place for your next networking meeting.