By: Sarah Dew Whitsett
Attending networking events is a great way to spread the word about what you do and to get in front of new people. As business owners this is a huge way to impact revenue.
But what do you do when the idea of sitting in a room with a bunch of strangers all trying to sell to each other makes you want to run and hide?
You start thinking about networking in a slightly different way. Here is how I manage to attend events and make them worth my time.
1) Networking doesn’t only mean going to lunch events and eating bland chicken. Networking is anywhere you are connecting with humans who could potentially be interested in what you do. That’s it. Depending on your target market, networking could be going to a book club and chatting with the person next to you. It could mean, as one of our clients does, going to retreat centers and connecting with the other patrons (I know, I wish that could be mine too. I’ll have to re-think my target market.) The key is to figure out where your people are spending time and then go there and talk to them. It really can be that simple.
2) Remember that most of the time, connecting with people who are a bit above you in qualifications or experience is a GREAT idea. Depending on your market, you should connect with folks who may be a few steps ahead of you. It makes all the difference. We told one of our clients recently that her goal is to go to rooms where she is considered the newbie or junior. This was hard for her to get her mind around. Over time, her experience had grown yet she stayed in the same types of networking groups. All of a sudden, she was the expert in the room and was no longer resonating with the new people. She had outgrown that audience. It was time to move on to new places. So make sure you have the ability to make bigger and better connections in your events. Don’t get stuck.
3) Lastly, if you are an introvert you have to take care of yourself. Figure out how many you can attend in a month. Schedule them, and then know that you don’t have to come out with 5 new clients and 2 new allies. It’s ok just to have had one great conversation and one new connection. Just be sure you follow up and grow that relationship.
Introverts can be the best networkers. Get creative, go where your people are, and make one new friend. That’s it!
Sarah is cofounder and strategist at Las Peregrinas, a creative and consulting agency. She’s all action and no beating around the bush. A former intensive care unit nurse, if you look closely, you’ll see her continuing to run triage in her work with clients now. It’s in her bones. Sarah’s ears are tuned to the efficient and effective use of time, money, and effort, and which actions need to be taken in which order to get the result you want.
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