It's time to get back out there, says Wendy Bartlett

24 August 2021 by

Some of us may have lost our networking skills, so it's a good time to start exercising, says Wendy Bartlett.

One aspect of hospitality I have always loved is the networking and socialising.

We may all work incredibly hard, but we are also one of best industries to be in to have fun, and this aspect of the industry is something that I have always thought is underplayed. People who value hospitality know how to enjoy it, too.

As life returns to some normality, there are many characteristics that have altered – and in fact, many things we need to relearn, such as social interaction and face-to-face contact in a business environment. This is something we will all have perfected over many years of working, but it is now one of the key skills we may have to brush up on.

Many colleagues have not worked together for a while, different teams have worked different hours than normal, and the whole interaction with customers and life has changed. In catering, new teams will also have been formed as businesses have reshaped their workforce for a multitude of reasons.

When talking about networking, someone said that it's important to remember the four letters that form the end of the word ‘network' – it's something you do have to put some effort and thought into.

The best networkers are the people that ‘give' more than they ‘take' in an interaction. When you meet people, it's about what you can do for them, or what you can learn from them, or what you can share with them, that helps to create that meaningful relationship. When meeting people, I always focus on the fact that this is a small moment in their lives. It's not the main focus of their world forever, but one moment, so make it the best you can.

Our lives are made up of small, important moments that can shape the way we do business, interact with friends, and develop relationships. Hospitality is an amazing industry to meet new people, to create friendships and have fabulous experiences. So, as we get out and about, I urge you to say ‘yes' to new experiences, enjoy meeting new people, and do what you can to forge new relationships.

I urge you to say ‘yes' to new experiences, enjoy meeting new people, and do what you can to forge new relationships

We have all needed social interaction, and the more face-to-face experiences we have, the better we will be at doing business. While we have to be mindful of the risks with Covid, we also need to concentrate on the many great things to come.

As the business world changes, the movement of people will be much greater in the next six months, so networking will gain greater importance. The old adage of never burn your bridges in hospitality is especially valuable: you never know who will end up being your boss or a colleague, so meet as many people as you can.

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