I hate to admit this
When it comes to networking, I’d really rather not. When I started an online business, I really assumed it would be that… online. But online or not, a solid business is built on building authentic relationships and to do that, you have to get out from behind the computer.
If you are an introvert like me, truly this is the last thing you want to do. Believe me, I completely understand. I once walked into a networking event and then proceeded to hide in the bathroom for the first 10 minutes so I could talk give myself a pep talk. But I did it.
Here's why you need to too:
#1. Working in a vacuum is a dangerous thing.
You can spend all your time and energy working on “the thing” you think is brilliant and will change your customer’s lives.
However, if you haven’t interacted with and spoken to your ideal customers about what you’re working on, you can be way off track. This can easily lead to no sales and crushing disappointment.
#2. Talking to people about what you do will give you courage and clarity.
The more you go out there and tell people who you are, who you help and how you help them, the easier it gets. In fact, it starts to become second nature and you start to own your expertise.
Very quickly, you’ll find yourself engaging in very natural conversations, leading to wonderful insights and clients too.
#3. Prospecting and engagement are the first steps in selling.
This does not mean you have to go out there and act like a used-car salesman or a pushy-over-the-top Tupperware lady.
What it does mean is you need to go out and find your audience (prospecting) and then build a relationship with them (engagement). When you do this in the spirit of finding people you know you can help and actually helping them without selling them anything, you start to build an audience that begins to know, like and trust you. When they are ready to buy guess who they’ll reach out to? Yes, you.
So let’s start super small.
Step #1: Tell people what you do.
Become aware of opportunities where you can tell people what you do. That’s it. You’re going to start telling people you bump into in day-to-day life that you are a coach, or a graphic designer or a dog sitter, etc.
The goal is to become much more comfortable and confident in telling as many people as possible what you do.
Step #2: Say yes to get togethers, parties and local events.
Now you’ll start to get out into the world and actively engaging with others. These are fun social events you’re going to, with people you already know. While it may be a little out of your comfort zone, the risks are low.
The goal here is to meet new people and get used to being out and about. The more you do it, the easier it gets. In fact, you may find yourself having fun (imagine that!).
Step #3. Go to a networking event.
Challenge yourself to finding a real networking event. It doesn’t have to be anything big or intense but it does need to be a situation where the goal is to specifically talk to people about your business, listen to them about their business and see if you can mutually support one another.
The goal here is to interact in your business community. Having personal connection with others in your industry is important. It’s how you can start to influence others and make a real impact.
Here are a few bonus tips to make going to a networking event much easier:
Bring a friend. Walking into a crowded event with someone by your side takes the edge off.
Challenge yourself to talk to five new people. If this is your first event, challenge yourself to talk to one person. ONE PERSON. You can do that.
Prepare. Find out what you can about the event. Do a little research about the speakers, other attendees or honorees. Have a few neutral stories or opening lines in your back pocket. Do your homework.
Tell me how it goes! Need a pep talk? Respond to this email or post in the comments.
Oh, one last thing! I’ll be walking my talk… promise! I can’t ask you to do something out of your comfort zone if I don’t step out of mine.