“Networking is the art of making connections”
It is the art of taking those connections and building business and ultimately personal relationships with those connections. Who needs to network? Anyone who wants to grow and monetize their business . Many people are not comfortable with making new connections, and that’s o.k. As long as you go out and learn to do it anyway.
A quick story, When I started my business almost twenty years ago now, I moved to an area where I really had no warm contacts. I picked up the Newspaper, yes not google, the old fashioned newspaper, and found a women’s group. I called the number, asked a few questions, registered and off I went by myself. My kids then 4 , 2, and newborn, were staying home with my husband. I was solo. I got dressed up, practiced what I wanted to say in my head and out loud all the way there. I even looked at myself in the mirror in the car and talked out loud! You had to see all the strange looks I got that day! When I got there I was so nervous that I sat in the car trying to convince myself to go in for almost a half hour. Finally, with shaky knees, I got out and walked right up to the front door and walked in, smiling. Just a big smile. No words. I feel like I smiled for a really long time and I never uttered a word for a good while. But I got through it. I met some nice people I could follow up with and I didn’t throw up in public. All was good! I did it over and over, still uncomfortable for a long time but I still did it.
Now, almost twenty years later, I run my own organization with my business partner, and I coach other women in business how to make connections and build relationships! See, there was my pearl. Catch it! If I can do it anyone can do it! Just do it. Let me share a few quick tips with you to make it less painful.
- Go out with a purpose – Who are you looking to meet? Research your target market. What do you want to say that they will remember you the way you want them too?
- Attitude is everything – Smile, stand straight up, look people in the eye, even if your knees are shaking and always be positive and fun to be around. You need to attract people remember that, not scare them away.
- Be a great listener and always ask questions – The more you ask the more you get to know them. Also, the less time they have to ask you anything which will make you less nervous.
- Find one to two groups that have people in it in your target market – Do not spread yourself to thin. Join the group or 2 groups, 3 maximum, you are most comfortable in and stick with it for the long haul. Cultivating relationships take time. If you expect to go to a few meetings and pop in and out of 5 different groups looking for quick business, don’t network at all. The “quick hit wonders” I call them, never build anything, they never give any of them enough time. That’s just a professional networker, not a professional connector!
The bottom line is, You have to do it! Get dressed cute and look like someone who you would be attracted to talking to. Take a few deep breaths, put a big smile on your face, and get out there and pretend your just going to a party to connect with some nice people! Lastly,and the most important ingredient is above all else just have some fun!