How to Stop the Pain of Networking
Networking can feel like a big bad beast. Something that's hard to tame. Maybe even something to be avoided.
The thing is, though, networking is not just important. It's crucial to your business.
So how do you tame the beast? How do you get comfortable with networking?
The problem is not with networking. It's in how we look at it.
Most of us look at networking as standing around at contrived meetings, and handing out your business card to anyone who will take it.
Does that sound like fun to you?
And networking can be fun!
When I first started my business, I was scared to 'sell'. Because that's how I thought about networking. That I had to sell myself and my business.
So I forced myself to go to a few of these events. After a few rounds, I ended up going into a huddle with other people talking about how unreal the whole process was.
I talked to them, heard about their lives, asked them questions, and they did the same. I'd often leave the networking events early to go for coffee with these people, and we had fun talking and getting to know each other.
The thing was, these were the people I ended up doing business with. We got to know each other, liked and trusted each other, and wanted to help.
For those of you who are introverted, you are probably already freaked out by my more extroverted experience (I'm an ambivert - a mix of the two). But it doesn't have to be that way.
You can take this at your own pace. Set a goal of finding just one person to talk to at a meeting, conference, or event. Go deep in being curious and asking questions, while still respecting the other person's boundaries, which I know that you as an introvert will do! That depth is going to help you get to know the person so much better, and that connection and knowledge will be valuable.
The reason that networking seems so beastly is that it feels inauthentic. That feeling really is at the heart of why people dread it.
So let's look at how we can be authentic, honor our souls, AND have a rockin' business!
The Natural Networking system that I've developed over the last 19 years works like this: Natural Networking centers around one key concept - FRIEND.
FRIEND is more than just an acronym. It reflects how you handle yourself in this situation. Here's a quick overview of what it means:Fun.
We're all attracted to people who are smiling, relaxed, and really present to the people they're with. Find ways to get in that space. First, breathe. Then think of a fun situation you've been in. Let the energy of that enter into where you are right now.Reflect.
Conventional networking feels lame because people are not really connecting. Connect by really listening and responding from what you hear, so they know you're paying attention.Interest.
Be curious. Ask questions. Show people you're interested in them as a person, not just in what they can do for you.Engage.
Offer the other person something that is valuable to them. Choose something that flows naturally out of the conversation. Be on the lookout for a way you can help.Nurture.
Natural Networking doesn't end at the door of the event. What would you do with a newfound friend? The same things apply here. Call, send an email, invite them to have coffee. Reaching out builds trust - you show you're interested.Dedicate.
Be consistent. Do what you say you're going to do. Nothing dampens a new connection faster than unreliability. Invest your time and energy into the relationship.
Networking doesn't seem so bad when you look at it that way, right?
With some patience and practice, you can become a natural networker. You can FRIEND anywhere, not just at those lame events. You may even decide not to go to those events anymore! Reaching out to people in this way is an anywhere activity.
Treat everyone you meet as a potential FRIEND. You'll not only gain friends, you'll have more clients than you can handle.Ursula Jorch, MSc, MEd, mentors entrepreneurs starting their businesses and seasoned entrepreneurs in transition to create the business of their dreams. Her coaching programs provide knowledge, support, clarity, inspiration, and a community of like-minded entrepreneurs to empower you to reach your goals. Start with a free guide and other valuable info at www.WorkAlchemy.com