Networking Success: Networking can help you strengthen your business connections, get fresh ideas and advance your career. But how can we achieve this? In our latest Business Leaders episode, we learn lessons from entrepreneur Sinead Norton, who owns Swift Events and founded the Mums At Work network.

For Sinead’s tips and tricks on event planning and successful networking, watch our full Business Leaders episode below, or read on for the highlights.

Sinead norton: achieving networking and event management success

Full-Time Mum and Entrepreneur: Sinead’s Career Journey

In her visit to the ProfileTree studio, Sinead began her route to success as an entrepreneur – not forgetting her most important job as a mother.

“The main thing that people know about me is that I’m a mummy of seven children.

“I started Swift Events after I had a laundry company. I wanted to work around my children as I found it very difficult to keep a job with so many children and all the different school pick-up times!”

Company Insight with Sinead Norton

With Sinead’s luck, the laundry company grew naturally into being a company supplying linens for hotels and events.

“Then, we started doing weddings and it took off from there.”

The rising popularity of chair covers for events, and the need for these to be cleaned and repurposed, provided a great opportunity for Sinead’s company.

“We had started laundering chair covers for various companies as they needed a really fast turnaround.

“Then we realised that the hotels could probably avail of chair covers for different events. We started off as a DIY chair cover hire service for hotels, but then they asked us if we could put them on and began to recommend us for weddings.”

Little did Sinead know, what would begin as a chair cover service would grow into Swift Events, providing customers with a “whole room setup”.

“We started doing dance floors – now we have chairs, sofas, tables, tablecloths and everything for a wedding day. We can also do this for events or ceremonies. Whatever we provide can be altered to match a bride’s colour scheme or a certain theme they want.”

Sinead’s business is a staple example of a business willing to evolve with demand and changing times. But what about digital? Sinead then details how she markets her business.

Company Insight with Sinead Norton
Sinead’s journey has seen her turning a home ironing service into a successful operation supplying over 400 weddings a year. 

Events in the Digital Age

With the ongoing, ever-evolving digital transformation we are experiencing, Sinead says that this has had a huge impact on how event management companies are sourced and booked.

Even with event ideation, Sinead explains that the process of how clients discover and develop their wedding ideas has changed.

“Brides are looking online, on Instagram and Pinterest, to see what it is they want. They’re looking at their venue and thinking ‘how can I make it like that?’.

“Then they come to us to ask if we can do it, and we say ‘yes we can’ or sometimes ‘no, this is what you have to do instead’.”

With this digital inspiration, comes boundless creativity. Sinead points out that the company enjoys working on projects with a more creative goal, and added that hotels providing their own packages can often lead to weddings looking similar to each other.

“For a few years, everyone was going with a vintage theme, so every other wedding was exactly the same. We look for somebody who’s willing to go a bit more dramatic.

“Brides are looking for something more unique to make their wedding more memorable, and create that wow factor when their guests come into a room.”

mums at work network
Sinead started Mums At Work to provide a supportive community for women who are both working and mothers. Image credit: Mums At Work

Mums At Work Network

Outside her event hire company, Sinead has also established Mums at Work network. Mums at Work was founded in 2018, after Sinead had been working in business for 12 years.

Sinead found that there were many challenges faced by women in business. For example, many women worked alone, at home, or struggled with balancing tasks that come with working as a sole trader, and a mother.

She outlines how the organisation works to support working parents.

“I realised that I was getting very tired with my business, because you are always self-motivating and pushing yourself. You are also always learning and processing.”

Sinead states that from experience, it is hard to realise when you are feeling stressed or burnt out because of these many tasks.

“Sometimes you hit a brick wall but you don’t know how you reached that stage. Somewhere along the way you’ve been told ‘if you work really hard you’re going to be successful’ and you keep thinking that tomorrow is going to be the day when you don’t need to work just as hard.

“So I realised that the key to success is not trying hard by yourself, but by asking good questions from other people to find real life experiences to get ahead. Some wee trick or tip can make a big difference to the way you do a certain task in your business and can make your life a lot easier.”

The network aims to provide advice, support and trusting relationships to people who share this commonality.

“People like to help other people out, and it’s also a way of referring to other businesses who have helped you, so it is also free advertising and word-of-mouth marketing.”

Find out much more about successful networking, event hire and Mums At Work in Sinead’s full Business Leaders interview.

You can also find both companies at the Swift Event website and Mums At Work website.

Beyond Business Cards: Quantifying the Impact of Networking Success

Networking often gets relegated to the realm of bland platitudes – “It’s all about who you know!” But for savvy individuals across diverse professions, it’s so much more. Let’s unlock the quantifiable value proposition of networking success, demonstrating how it empowers specific audiences to achieve tangible results.

Tuning the Instruments:

  • Sales Symphony: A study by LinkedIn found that salespeople with strong networks see a 95% increase in lead generation and 50% boost in closed deals. Imagine the financial melody that plays when you connect with decision-makers and industry influencers.
  • Marketing Maestro: For entrepreneurs, networking can translate into a 25% improvement in brand awareness and a 10% increase in customer acquisition. Think of the amplified audience you gain by strategically connecting with industry peers and potential customers.
  • Career Crescendo: For those navigating career transitions, a robust network can lead to a 50% reduction in job search time and a 20% increase in salary offers. Picture landing your dream job by tapping into the hidden orchestra of opportunity within your network.

Soloists Take the Stage:

  • New Business Overture: Aspiring entrepreneurs can leverage their network for invaluable market research, securing mentors and investors, and building collaborative partnerships. Imagine your startup blossoming thanks to the expertise and resources unlocked through connections.
  • Creative Cadence: Creatives like artists and musicians can utilize their network to land collaborations, secure exhibition opportunities, and gain feedback from industry pros. Think of your artistic career reaching new heights through the power of strategic connections.

Facing the Discordant Notes:

  • Transition Harmony: For those facing career changes or redundancy, a supportive network can offer guidance, job leads, and even emotional encouragement. Imagine finding your next perfect note thanks to the supportive chorus of your network.
  • Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: Networking can offer valuable validation and confidence boosts, helping individuals overcome self-doubt and shine their light. Picture silencing the inner critic and amplifying your unique voice through the empowering harmonies of connection.

Building Bridges Beyond Business Cards: Nurturing Relationships in Everyday Life

Networking isn’t just about collecting LinkedIn connections or shaking hands at cocktail receptions. It’s about cultivating genuine relationships that blossom into a vibrant support system and resource hub. Let’s explore how to expand your network beyond the usual suspects and cultivate connections that resonate in everyday life.

Planting the Seeds:

  • Workplace Harmony: Don’t underestimate the power of the water cooler chat or the lunch break banter. Actively engage with colleagues, offer help where needed, and celebrate each other’s successes. These seemingly casual interactions weave the fabric of trust and camaraderie, fostering valuable connections within your professional orbit.
  • Volunteer Vibrato: Volunteering puts you side-by-side with individuals passionate about the same cause. Share your skills, lend a helping hand, and actively connect with your fellow volunteers. Remember, shared purpose can be a powerful bridge to meaningful relationships.
  • Community Crescendo: Look beyond your professional bubble and engage with your local community. Attend neighborhood events, join hobby groups, or participate in local initiatives. These shared experiences offer fertile ground for forging new connections and discovering unexpected allies.

Branching Out:

  • Warm Introductions: Leverage existing connections to reach individuals outside your immediate circle. Ask colleagues, mentors, or friends for introductions to relevant people within your target network. A warm introduction carries weight and opens doors more readily than a cold email.
  • Social Media Serenade: While not the sole focus, online platforms can be valuable networking tools. Engage authentically on relevant platforms, participate in group discussions, and contribute valuable insights. By showcasing your expertise and connecting with like-minded individuals, you cultivate online relationships that can blossom into offline connections.
  • Collaboration Concerto: Seek opportunities to collaborate with individuals beyond your usual collaborators. This could involve co-organizing an event, participating in a joint project, or simply brainstorming ideas over coffee. Shared goals and creative endeavors solidify relationships and unlock new avenues for networking.

Nurturing the Garden:

  • Active Listening: Be an attentive listener, genuinely interested in others’ experiences and perspectives. Active listening fosters genuine connection and builds trust, the bedrock of any valuable network.
  • Reciprocity Rhapsody: Networking isn’t one-sided. Offer help, support, and resources to your network whenever possible. Remember, it’s a give-and-take symphony, and genuine reciprocity strengthens the bonds you build.
  • Follow-up Forte: Don’t let connections fade after an initial encounter. Reach out with relevant updates, share interesting articles, or simply send a friendly note. Staying in touch keeps the melody of your network flowing and strengthens the bonds you’ve cultivated.

Beyond Small Talk: Mastering the Art of Contextual Networking

Networking conversations go beyond the standard “What do you do?” and weather-based banter. To truly resonate and leave an impactful impression, it’s crucial to adapt your strategies to the specific context. Let’s explore tactics for different settings and unleash the hidden potential of each networking encounter.

Conference Crescendo:

  • Targeted Approach: Research prominent speakers and attendees beforehand. Identify individuals whose expertise aligns with your goals and prepare insightful questions to spark meaningful conversations.
  • Elevator Pitch Perfection: Craft a concise and compelling pitch highlighting your value proposition or area of interest. Practice your delivery to confidently introduce yourself and pique others’ curiosity.
  • Beyond Booths: Don’t just hang around your exhibitor booth. Actively mingle in common areas, participate in panel discussions, and volunteer for session moderation. Visibility and engagement attract potential connections.

Social Media Serenade:

  • Content Curator: Share valuable industry insights, engaging articles, and thought-provoking questions on your platforms. Position yourself as a thought leader and attract individuals interested in similar topics.
  • Authentic Interaction: Don’t just retweet and like. Engage in genuine conversations, comment on relevant posts, and actively participate in online communities. Showcasing your personality and expertise fosters deeper connections.
  • Targeted Hashtags: Utilize relevant hashtags to reach a wider audience interested in your niche. Participate in hashtag-driven discussions and contribute valuable insights to expand your online network.

One-on-One Opus:

  • Active Listening Symphony: Give your undivided attention, ask follow-up questions, and genuinely engage with the other person’s experiences and expertise. Active listening builds trust and sets the stage for a meaningful exchange.
  • The FAB Framework: Introduce the Features, Advantages, and Benefits of your work or career aspirations in a concise and compelling way. Frame your conversation around solutions you offer and value you bring to the table.
  • Storytelling Concerto: Share relevant anecdotes or personal experiences that showcase your skills, values, and unique perspective. Storytelling makes you memorable and fosters deeper connections with your conversation partner.

Untangling the Knots: Overcoming Common Networking Challenges

The world of networking, while brimming with opportunity, can also be riddled with thorns. Let’s face it, shyness, awkward encounters, and self-promotion jitters can leave even the most determined networker feeling deflated. But fear not! Here’s a toolbox for tackling these common challenges and emerging from every interaction with grace and confidence.

Facing the Pitfalls:

  • Shyness Serenade: Don’t let shyness silence your inner maestro. Start small: strike up brief conversations with colleagues, attend smaller events, or practice introducing yourself to one new person at a larger gathering. Overcoming initial discomfort is half the battle.
  • Self-Promotion Stumble: Struggling to showcase your value? Practice your “elevator pitch” – a concise and compelling summation of who you are and what you offer. Focus on the solutions you bring and the benefits you provide, not just your job title.
  • Digital Dizzying: Online platforms can be overwhelming. Start by joining industry-specific groups, participate in relevant discussions, and share valuable insights without being overly promotional. Focus on building genuine connections first.

Navigating the Awkward:

  • Silence Symphony: The dreaded silence? Fill it with open-ended questions, active listening, and genuine curiosity. A pause doesn’t have to be awkward, it can be an invitation for deeper conversation.
  • Faux Pas Forte: Everyone makes mistakes! If you stumble, acknowledge it with humor or grace, and move on. Don’t dwell on it – people appreciate authenticity and the ability to laugh at oneself.
  • Escape Hatch Etude: Feeling drained or overwhelmed? Excuse yourself gracefully, citing another commitment or needing a short break. Remember, it’s okay to prioritize your well-being without jeopardizing connections.

Building Confidence and Resilience:

  • Small Wins Serenade: Celebrate small victories! Successfully engaging in a conversation, securing a valuable contact, or simply overcoming shyness are all accomplishments. Celebrate each win to build momentum and confidence.
  • Visualization Vibrato: Before attending events, visualize yourself engaging confidently, delivering your pitch flawlessly, and connecting with interesting people. Mental preparation strengthens your resolve and boosts your confidence.
  • Support System Symphony: Surround yourself with encouraging friends, colleagues, or mentors who believe in you and your networking goals. Their support and encouragement can be invaluable in times of self-doubt.

Frequently Asked Questions about Building a Successful Network:

Q: How do I overcome my shyness when networking?

A: Start small! Strike up brief conversations with colleagues, join smaller events, or practice introducing yourself to one new person at a larger gathering. Celebrate each accomplishment, no matter how small, to build confidence over time.

Q: How do I effectively promote myself without feeling awkward?

A: Craft a concise and compelling “elevator pitch” highlighting your value and solutions you offer. Focus on benefits, not just your job title. Practice beforehand, and remember, authenticity is key.

Q: How do I navigate online networking platforms without feeling overwhelmed?

A: Join industry-specific groups and participate in relevant discussions. Share valuable insights without being overly promotional. Focus on building genuine connections first, and don’t hesitate to take breaks if needed.

Q: What do I do if I encounter an awkward situation or make a mistake?

A: Acknowledge it with humor or grace and move on. Don’t dwell on it, people appreciate authenticity and the ability to laugh at oneself. If needed, excuse yourself for a short break to regain composure.

Q: How can I build confidence and resilience in networking situations?

A: Celebrate small wins, visualize success, and surround yourself with supportive people who believe in you. Remember, every successful networker faced challenges, but learned to navigate them with grace and perseverance.


Networking isn’t about collecting business cards or superficial interactions; it’s about cultivating genuine connections, offering value, and fostering mutually beneficial relationships. By embracing authenticity, reciprocity, and ethical practices, you transform networking into a powerful tool for professional and personal growth.

Remember, it’s a journey, not a destination. Keep building meaningful connections, offering your unique value, and celebrating the successes of others. As you conduct this harmonious symphony of relationships, you’ll discover that networking becomes less about “who you know” and more about the beautiful music you create together.

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