Who is Jeni Smith?
08th Aug 2022
Firstly, who is Jeni Smith?
What a big question! I’m a whole bunch of different things – I’m a Mum to a 3 year old daughter, wife an amazing man called Dave, I’m the founder of NetKno and really passionate about my work, I’m hoping to start my PhD at Durham this October, I’m sober and have been for over four years now, I’m also a Christian, a vegan, and a feminist. My favoute movie is Legally Blonde, my favourite food is cauliflower, I prefer sweet to savoury and dark chocolate to any other. I love all the Real Housewives, I’d rather go to the cinema on my own, rather eat out than in, have recently discovered batch cooking and it’s changed my life, I’m an America citizen as well as British, I once lived in Fiji with nuns, I know British Sign Language, I have an obsession with secret passage ways and rooms in old houses, and I hope to one day covert an old stately home back to its former glory.
What is something new you have learned about yourself in the last three months?
To be honest there are loads! I’m on a bit of a personal development kick at the minute, well, have been for the last four years. This year I took a leap into therapy to better understand myself and it’s without a doubt the greatest investment in myself I’ve ever made (I’d recommend it to anyone!). I know now why I react to certain situations or people based on experiences from my past, and I’m better equipped to make decisions for myself and the business moving forward. Getting to know me allows me to build better relationships with others, and that’s something really worth investing in.
If you had to describe networking as an amusement park ride, what ride are you on?
I love this – so I’d say a networking event is very much like hook-a-duck. There’s a bunch of people all milling around, you pick one to go and talk to and if you ask the right questions, you’re probably going to learn something new or potentially get a new client, collaborator, referral friend, or simply a new connection.
Networking in the broader sense, i.e., where we nurture the relationships, we already have with the people in our networks (this is where the real magic happens!), is more like the dodgems! You’re really got to get stuck in, be proactive with engaging with people, put yourself out there and give them a bit of a nudge sometimes. It can be scary, and a bit bumpy, but it’s so much fun and you never know where it might lead.
If you are entering a networking event what would your entrance theme song be?
So I’ve actually got a special playlist I listen to in the car on the way to a networking event to help get my riled up! It features such classics as;
Faith, George Michael,
Feels, Calvin Harris feat. Pharrell
Big Energy, Latto & Mariah Carey
But for my actual entrance song I’d have to pick Walk This Way by Run-DMC & Aerosmith, absolute classic you can’t help but strut to!
What are three pieces of advice for an introvert at networking event?
Introverts often feel like networking events aren’t for them, which isn’t the case at all but it’s why this is a subject I’m often asked about and one close to my heart. Here’s my top 3 tips –
Format: look for event with a structure, focal point and clear format, this will help feel like it has a purpose outside of small talk and you’ll have a clearer idea of what you’re walking into.
1-2-1’s: attend events that give you the chance to have more 1-2-1 conversations instead of 1-2-many. This will help you preserve energy, focus on just one person at a time, and allow you to show your best self.
Schedule: be sure not to book in meetings just before or just after a networking event because odds are you’re going be tired. Give yourself the chance to recharge after an event and preserve your energy before by keeping your diary clear.
If you could network in another historical period which one would you choose?
I absolutely love anything Jayne Austin and would LOVE to have lived during that era – don’t get my wrong I’d have been a nightmare, I’m far to independent, opinionated and strong-willed to have waited around all day for a husband, but their entire existence was focused around networking and social capital. It was all about who you were related to, who you were connected to, who you were seen with and what parties you were seen at. I find it utterly fascinating and would love to have experienced it, just for a year or two.
What one golden nugget about networking do you wish all businesses knew?
In its rawest form networking is simply being nice to people. That’s it. If you can do that and encourage your staff to do that whilst being prepared to play the long-game then you’ll have struck absolute gold!
You have been chosen to represent your region in a national competition, what activity are you doing?
In the past this would have been swimming, I was 3rd in the country back in the day! Now however I’d have go with escape rooms. I don’t think there’s a national competition for escape rooms (there really should be!) but if there was I’d be there they’re literally my most favourite things ever. I love problem solving, immersive theatre, time pressure, competition, all of it! It’s just the most fun ever and if I could spend my days doing nothing but travelling the world completing escape rooms, I might just be the happiest person on the planet.
And finally, how can people reach out to you?
I’m easy to find and always up for a coffee or a call – you can get me at email@example.com / www.netkno.co.uk