Ok, so this one I am going to try to keep it brief for you. Just a quick snippet as you sip that elusive hot beverage or take 5 in the loo because everyone seems to need something from you today.
So here it is, I hate networking. Now you might think that because I talk (a lot) and because I have an air of confidence that this is something that comes naturally to me but you’d be totally wrong. I am naturally very shy and my anxiety ratchets up a notch when it comes to networking (think sweaty palms and lots of standing in toilet cubicles breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth). Really though, that’s one of the very reasons I think it’s hugely important to you and your business.
I won’t lie, at some face to face networking events it feels a little like 52 card pick up with the business cards but hear me out on my top 3 reasons for networking in person.
- It helps you to hone your business message and in turn some of those nerves.
- Eurgh, there is something so cringey about looking back on your first networking events where you spewed verbal word vomit all over anyone who would listen isn’t there. And you may even be avoiding the same experience by simply avoiding the events BUT without practice, without building up an understanding of what people want to hear about your business, then you will always spew verbal word vomit and aint nobody got time for that!
- It actually does work (as long as you’re going to the right events)
- When you go to an event you have to remember some key points or you will just be running around shaking hands and randomly giving out cards to people who don’t really care. You need to remember that everyone is there for the same purpose, to find more clients or engage with people who could lead to more clients. So talk, ask questions and keep things relaxed don’t just sell yourself the way you planned to in the mirror the night before, actually listen. So far this week I have scheduled follow up meetings with a chef, an Etsy seller and an established health care provider from one networking event alone. I may not end up working with any or all of them but what I have done is learned, honed and listened. I have also built my network, you see, if I do well for them (even in terms of a simple follow up meeting) then they will think of me when other businesses/colleagues or friends consider outsourcing. That is word of mouth baby!
- It allows you an opportunity to think on your feet
- If like me you are a solopreneur then it’s easy to get used to a particular type of conversation or even hiding behind emails. I say hiding because the lack of personal connection can make you feel a bit feral when you venture back out into public but don’t worry, I haven’t eaten a biscuit out of someone elses hand yet and neither will you! The simple truth is that what people are buying is rarely just the product or service. Most of the time there are multiple outlets providing the same thing, what they are buying is the person behind the brand. You.
If you’re in business then there is nearly always a business networking event that you can go to.
Historically they used to be run often by your local Chamber of Commerce and would be breakfast meetings and the like. But with modern networking capabilities, you could find, like me, that there is a local dedicated enterprise that meets regularly or even more niche ones like meetings specifically for mums that run businesses.
My biggest piece of advice is to google the s#@! out of it, find some that you think your ideal client could be at, or that provides you with an opportunity to learn and grow. I have committed myself to one per month but maybe you could try once per quarter if that makes more sense for you.
Do you need help to find suitable networking events? Drop me a line here and I will be in touch!
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Thanks for reading.