Last night I attended the City of Kingston’s Meet Your Mates networking event.
The Kingston Council holds these events and invites business owners to a cafe situated in the industrial areas of Kingston. Last night it was in Moorabbin which is close to the area that I live.
Some time ago I joined the Council’s Local Business Directory to be on the email distribution list for events and workshops as a way to become more involved in my business community. After 24 or so years of working in the corporate world in Melbourne, now that I was a freelancer with my home as my base, I needed to be more connected with my own area. I reasoned that I was living in an area responsible for driving a hefty part of the Victorian economy with small, medium and light industry and it was untapped potential for exploring new partnerships, relationships and networking when it comes to new work.
However my connection with the local community would also feed my curiosity and desire to learn about new challenges and opportunities that face these businesses and industries. A part of me also wanted to be an active part of business at the “grass roots” level.
It’s a different sense of feeling when you walk onto a factory floor than walking into an open plan office environment. Sometimes I think, I’m walking a bridge between two different worlds: one side of the bridge, I look down and I see industry, labour, output, noise – a world that deals with widgets – and on the other side, I see a world of people at desks or open plan environments who deal with information and bytes at the push of a button or a swipe of a tablet. Both worlds are going through so much change and flux in their own way and the only way to make sense about your role in these two worlds is to find your place in it.
Deep down you know you need to connect both sides to the bridge and the answer may be through social networking – encouraging people to learn with each other through each other.
Last night’s event was at the Cool Bean Kitchen (614 South Road Moorabbin). I chatted with one of the owners, Emma Lugrin who said that she and her husband Danny had opened the cafe in March. They loved to meet the people who lived and worked in the area and open their doors to people who wanted to come in, work, eat, and meet clients from the local area. They share their stories and photos of the delicious meals they make to their community on their Cool Bean Kitchen Facebook page.
I was glad to have come along to the networking event because it gave me an opportunity to not only learn about Emma’s new business (and potential, “Third Place”) but also to give me a snapshot of different businesses in the area as I chatted to people in the financial and wealth industry, tax agents, digital marketers, tutors, recruiters and social media experts.
If you’re a new freelancer like me, I encourage you to look at the opportunities that may be in your “own back yard” and to reconnect with your local council business directory or services. There may be areas of interest that directly align to your products and services and that could open up new partnerships and relationships.
Don’t be under the impression that local business simply serve the local community – some of them already have clients, products and services going globally through an online and social presence. Their reach can be wider than you think!