How to make sure that your networking is “green”

Chantal Cooke is a passionate environmentalist and co-founder and Managing Director of the award winning Passion for the Planet, the UK’s only radio station focusing on health and environmental issues.

Passion broadcasts to London and the South on DAB Digital Radio and nationwide on the Internet: www.passionfortheplanet.com.

Sometimes when confronted with the enormity of our environmental challenges and the seeming lack of urgency displayed by our leaders, it’s easy to feel we are all doomed and that any contribution we make is pointless.

However, as individuals we can make a difference. We have enormous power – it’s just that we often don’t realise it. For every pro environmental action we take this year we are contributing to the solution.

Networking is a great way to generate new business and meet interesting (and potentially helpful) people. So, how you can reduce the environmental impact of your networking while maintaining (or even increasing) its effectiveness?

Here are a few simple “green” tips if you are attending a networking event…

1. Getting to the event is likely to be one of the most carbon intensive parts of networking. If possible travel there by public transport and leave the car at home. If the event is difficult to reach without a car, see if you can buddy up with another attendee and share the car or cab journey. Ask the organiser to put you in touch with someone who could pick you up from the nearest station (make sure this is someone the organiser knows personally to ensure your own safety). Suggest to the organiser that next time they choose a venue nearer to public transport.

2. Hopefully you’ll be dishing out plenty of business cards as you meet new people, so ensure yours are printed on recycled paper, using soya based (rather than petroleum based) inks. Recycled card is now available in a variety of finishes so you can choose whether you want your cards to look like they’ve been printed on recycled card or not.

3. Don’t bring lots of paper brochures and leaflets with you – follow up afterwards with an email. It’s cheaper and kinder to the planet and easier for people to store if they want to keep your details. It’s also an excuse to make contact after the event and follow up on any conversations you had.

4. Go for the meat free canapes and ask the organiser to arrange vegetarian snacks. Meat production accounts for over 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions so every time you say “no” to meat you’re helping to cut your own emissions. As an added bonus you are also helping alleviate poverty because large amounts of land are taken away from small farmers in the developing world in order to grow grain to feed cattle that we eat in the developed world.

5. At the end of the event hand back your plastic name badge holder so that it can be re-used.

6. If you notice something that, from an environmental perspective, could be improved – politely tell the appropriate person and suggest what changes they could make. Please be polite and helpful – no one wants to be criticised or attacked!

If you are organising an event here are a few ways to make it greener

1. Choose a venue close to public transport or help attendees buddy up to reduce the amount of car journeys. Facilitate introductions to people who are able to offer a lift or could share a cab from the station.

2. Choose a venue with a clear, effective environmental policy. If you’re not entirely satisfied with your venue’s environmental credentials but you can’t change venue, then feed back to the manager that you’d like to see improvements and that caring for the planet is important to you as a customer. The more the management hears this the more likely they are to take it on board and make some changes.

3. If you are serving food – go meat free. Most meat eaters won’t even notice and the vegetarians will be thrilled (most vegetarians get very little choice of food when they are at events, so if they can eat any of the canapes or buffet – you will have won them over. Believe me, they will notice!) Just cutting meat out of the menu will instantly make your event greener.

4. Collect the name badge holders at the end of the evening – put a basket with a sign on the table by the exit and/or by the coat check area. If you are personally speaking to departing guests then ask them for their badge – most people don’t want to go home with it and will be pleased you’ve reminded them that it’s pinned to their lapel!

5. Choose organic, vegetarian wine (no, not all wine is vegetarian!). By choosing organic varieties you’ll be helping to reduce the amount of pesticide and fertiliser that goes into the soil and our water.

6. At the end of the event collect up any left over leaflets, feedback forms etc and ensure they are recycled or reused.

These are just a few ways to green up your networking – there are plenty more, so be as creative as you like! And be sure to let everyone know – after all networking is all about building relationships, and offering useful advice is a great way to connect with people.

If you’d like to connect with me or pass on some more green networking tips please follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/ChantalCooke or contact me via: http://www.passionfortheplanet.com

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