The power of networking..
I am not very good writing about my “accomplishments” as I always think that others have achieved more or that what I think are accomplishments really are just what most people would consider standard practice.
That may have a lot to do with imposter syndrome and I think most of us suffer from this in some form or another but where I think I’m lucky is… I love networking, I love meeting new people and although this might sound strange, I don’t like going to events with people I know, I would far prefer to go on my own, putting myself out of the comfort zone, so that I have to talk to people I don’t know!
In 2018, I was at an event and happened to speak with someone from Microsoft and was so inspired, I set myself the goal to find a way to get involved with Microsoft. A year later, I was accepted onto their first AI for Good accelerator programs and I thought – “I sneaked in through the back door here, HOW?”, I really could not believe they selected me to be a part of this amazing programme.
I threw myself into the accelerator, absorbing everything I could, saying yes to every opportunity, every event, even though it meant spending a lot of my time travelling to London. I can honestly say it has far exceeded any of my expectations.
Not only has it helped grow the business and exposed me to new ideas and opportunities, but the network that I’ve been able to build through the program has just been phenomenal. We have been selected to continue on Microsoft Global AI for Earth programme, exposing us to their Global network and the latest technology developments whist still being supported by the inspiring StartUp team.
The same thing happened with Women’s Enterprise Scotland, I just happened to be at an event and there was a discussion around WES and again, it resonated with me. I thought I really want to be a part of this, applied and luckily I was selected to become a WES ambassador in 2019. I also entered the WES Awards and was fortunate enough to win their Innovator of the Year award.
The network and opportunities that have now come from being a WES ambassador have been amazing, I’ve been and spoken at the Scottish Parliament, connected with some amazing women, visited the BBC and continue to grow and develop myself and my network with their amazing support.
But sometime you can make some amazing connections from the most unexpected events, I attended an event in our local town, just because I thought it was local and should support it, but I met an amazing lady from the Royal Bank of Scotland who is continuing to help grow my network and I am now part of Royal Bank of Scotland accelerator program, which again is full of opportunity and networks.
From my brief story what I want to get across to you, is it that you just never know who you are going to meet and what impact they are going to have on you. I have always felt like a bit of an imposter and an opportunist, but over this past year, by luck and a bit of tenacity, I have met some of the most amazing people and business and had some of the most amazing opportunities which would have been impossible if I had not put myself out of my comfort zone and spoken to complete strangers.
So GO and make some connections, build your network, it is one of the best investments you will make, not only for your business but for the growth you will personally gain. I am a much stronger more confident person going into 2020 than I was a year ago and I have such great plans for this coming year, which would not have been possible without the support from the amazing people that have come into my life through networking. So I hope we meet at an event sometime soon!
Amanda Pickford is the founder of ThermaFy and a Women's Enterprise Scotland Ambassador.