As Jody from I Like Her Style Vancouver said, “Many fear networking as it is not our natural human state, we come out of the womb screaming for what we want and protecting ourselves, not listening and building relationships.” After Jody shared her tips at Vancity Business Babes Networking Event I had to ask if I could share more. I loved what she had to say and how encouraging she was to others who are just learning to network. Below Jody shares her networking tips with us, sharing how she successfully networks and builds lasting relationships. I hope these help you to feel more comfortable and confident the next time you are out and about.
Networking is one of the most important parts of leading a successful business, yet many of us don’t want to do it or are too scared. It shouldn’t be that way. We should want to connect with others, and have the ability to learn and grow together. Let’s change our mindset on networking and make it fun, exciting and watch our businesses grow because of it!
Jody and I first met for coffee after she reached out to me through email. We connected through a referral from a friend of mine and since then I have been able to be featured in two of their magazines as well as a special Brunch hosted by I Like Her Style. We connect and chat at every event that we see each other out and about at. This connection wouldn’t have been made if both of us didn’t actively commit to the relationship to stay connected. I feel that it has equally benefitted both of us as we can build and grow our businesses alongside each other with support.
Tips to Feel More Comfortable and Maximize Your Return When Networking
Don’t Let the Word Networking Scare You
Networking does not need to the overwhelming. Many people make the thought of networking scare them with results in thoughts associated with stress and anxiety. Don’t overthink it and put pressure on ourselves to do it ‘right’, just be yourself.
Remember Everyone Feels the Same Way
You aren’t the only one feeling nervous. Everyone in the room is putting themselves out there for the same reasons as you. Know that you are not alone and let that help you to get past any doubts.
Think of it as an Investment
Networking is the biggest investment you can make when starting a business and maintaining your career. You might not see an immediate return on investment so it requires commitment and patience to see it through to it’s benefits.
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Brings Brand Awareness
The return on investment does not always have monetary gains, brand awareness is something we cannot assign a dollar value to. What you will see is that it supports business growth profoundly.
Keep Doing It
Practice Makes Perfect! Don’t think that you are going to be a pro after one event. Keep talking to people and connecting, not just at networking events. You never know who you might be sitting beside at the coffee shop, on the bus or waiting in line. Push yourself to talk to someone once a day, or even once a week (if it scares you really bad).
Keep Making Connections
Leading from the last point, I just want to hammer this home again. Commit to networking everyday with at least one person. This could be coffee dates, to events, to cold calling, sending an email, engaging on social media or connecting back with existing clients. All of these are forms of networking and connecting, your goal is to actively pursue it.
Find Your Tribe
You need a tribe to survive. All brands with longevity and positive association have one thing in common, they have a team and a community that is supporting them and believing in their vision. You tribe could look different from person to person but think of them as these people; paying clients, collaborations, supporters, friends, family, referrals, business community, etc. All of these people hold value to your business.
Choose Your Time Wisely
When choosing where to spend your time networking don’t just go through the motions and network for the sake of networking. Choose a community that interests you and events that will support your business needs. Spend your time wisely to maximize the return from each specific networking event.
Connection Goals at Events
At events make a 3 person connection goal:
• Target one person that you want to meet before you arrive at the event. This is someone that you have scoped out before you arrive at the event and have been wanting to connect with. Could be pure admiration or potential business connection, either way go talk to them.
• Target one person that you have no idea who they are. Pick them out after you have arrived at the event and go meet them.
• Target one person that you can re-connect with, someone that you have met before.
If you can networking with these three different people and have meaningful conversations, that is more powerful then surface level networking with dozens.
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Discretely take notes in your phone to remember the person and ensure next time you connect with them you can pick up where you left off. This will help you to build genuine relationships with them and many others at the same time. Save points that will trigger your memory – a unique conversation piece, an article of clothing they were wearing, a common interest, etc.
Always send a follow up note letting them know how much you enjoyed chatting with them. This is a must if you have told them you would reach out and send some info or arrange a meeting. The follow up does not have to be business related, can simply be a thank you not for their time and looking forward to seeing them again.
Don’t Over Commit
Don’t offer things that you cannot commit to. For example; don’t say you’d absolutely love to go for coffee next week when you know your schedule next week won’t allow it. It is better to be honest about your availability and then plan accordingly. Suggest to connect through email or phone call instead if you are unable to connect in person.
Just RELAX!! Take some deep breathes before walking into a networking situation, be yourself and remind yourself that you are one kick ass individual with a lot to offer the world! Never stop being curious. The amount to learn from others is so profound and powerful – now get out there and say hi to the next person you ride the elevator with, they may just be the person that you need in your life!
Thanks to much to Jody for all of your networking tips. You are so inspiring and it is so encouraging to know that we are not alone. I love the idea of choosing three people to network with and make it a goal to not leave an event until those three are checked off. Happy Networking!