What does “networking” mean to you ?
If you work for a company does it mean something different than when you own your own business?
One of my favorite websites, Dictionary.com, defines networking as:
“a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest”
I like it!
Note that it says *nothing* about it being an activity where you go and sell/promote yourself. I look at it as an activity where I’m going to find kindred spirits. :0)
When I left corporate in 2008, I realized how lacking in a network I was. I had relied on the interactions within the company and hadn’t created a strong network outside of it.
I had to work hard and fast to grow my network when starting my business. Now, I’m commonly known as the “community connectrix” because I know so many people. I often get calls and emails asking me ‘do you know somebody who….?’
Whether you work for a company or own one, check in with yourself about the strength of your network. Can you call anyone in there when you have a question or need help or want to brainstorm something? If the answer is no, then it’s time for you to start building your network.
Now, I say that and will qualify with this: as an introvert, I personally don’t prefer traditional networking in very large groups. While I do go to some of those, I prefer talking with people in very small groups or one-on-one.
As a result, my ‘networking’ primarily consists of phone chats, coffees, and lunches. I like the deeper interaction that happens in those settings, so that’s how I choose to invest my time, even though it may take ‘longer’ to get to more people. I believe in quality not quantity.
Networking doesn’t have to be all about *business*. Go up and re-read the definition. It’s really about building that supportive system of relationships with people. Here are some types of activities/groups to think about when growing your network:
* Professional Associations – there are many of these out there that represent certain professions. Use ‘the Google’ and search for chapters in your area, then check them out.
* Volunteering – what charity or cause do you feel passionate about? Search for non-profits who need volunteers and start getting to know other people who feel the same as you do.
* LinkedIn – this is a professional gathering space online where you can connect with those you know, like, and trust. The best part of it is that you get to see who THOSE people know and connect through them to meet new people.
* Chambers of Commerce – these groups have a mix of entrepreneurs and companies. Even if you’re already employed, this kind of group can open your networking channels.
* Mentoring – many companies have a formal mentoring program, yet you can also choose your own mentor – whether you work for a company or own one. Mentors share their experience with less experienced people and are accessible for questions and problems.
* Meetup.com – this is one of my favorite places to go to find out what’s going on in my area. I like to say, “If you like to fly purple kites, you can likely find a purple kite flying group on Meetup.” It’s the perfect mix of social network and live in-person activities.
* Referrals groups – this kind of group is for business owners who want to cross refer business to other members of the group. There are many out there and each has it’s own personality and culture, so go out and find the one that fits *you*.
* Mastermind groups – these groups capitalize on the wisdom of the group and help give each other advice on running their business. You can pay to join one or start your own.
Now, don’t misunderstand me: I am not telling you to run out and join all of these groups! You must really first think about the support that you need and want and then create the interaction with the groups that will satisfy your needs. Your needs will likely change, so give it enough time to try it out but also don’t stay too long where it starts to feel like a burden.
What I *am* saying is to create the supportive system that you need and want. It’s not about finding places to sell yourself, it’s about finding resources you can connect with for your personal and professional growth.
Business opportunities are just a side-effect!
How you know you’re in the flow…..
Alignment to Purpose
The Purpose. My purpose is to help others be heard and seen. I believe that everybody matters and deserves to be heard. I imagine the day when everyone can speak their truth confidently. Not only that, but also not be judged or criticized when they do it. My medium is teaching people how to have mindful business conversations. In that process, they learn to accept themselves and understand and accept others – and talk them more effectively.
The need. One of the critical steps I take my service entrepreneurs through is seeing their offerings from a *client* perspective and why a client would want what they’re offering. More importantly, I help them determine *what kind* of client would want what they’re offering. It’s totally okay to be so excited about what we like to do – and it’s also our responsibility to take the time to present that offering in a way that those we want to help will be compelled to hire us.
The tweak. So, to practice what I preach, I needed to do the same thing with my new offering. As I spoke with others about it over the past couple of months, their eyes lit up and their heads nodded in agreement: YES! People aren’t having real conversations anymore and we agree that it must be a skill that is kept fresh. So I had to ask myself, “What kind of business owners do I need to reach who would even care that their teams got more done and had more fun?” Mindful ones!
The first client. You’ve heard me say that speaking your Purpose and articulating a clear and succinct message will compel your ideal connection to come to you? I was on vacation earlier this month in SC, telling my friend, Nancy, about what I’m doing with the new tweak. She was so compelled by what I said that she set up a meeting for me with her boss to discuss their needs further. After a 30-minute meeting at the yogurt shop, her boss was so compelled by what I said that she hired me to do a 2.5 hour workshop for their team at their meeting in August!
The flow. You know you’re in the flow when your first client hires you and you haven’t even promoted yourself yet. The flow is created when you’re aligned with your Purpose. Whether you work for a company or own one, this holds true for you, too. When you’re aligned, opportunities move in front of you and show themselves to you. If you harmonize having a plan to support your purpose with being present in each of your daily steps – flow happens!
Your Purpose. What’s your purpose? Your purpose isn’t “To be the best massage therapist in the world.” or “To help people.” or “To support my boss/company.” Your purpose goes much deeper than that. Your purpose isn’t specific to a body of work as much as it’s an overarching motivator in your life.
I’d be honored to help you connect with and articulate your purpose so you, too, can make a bigger impact. Visit the “Let’s Talk” page to schedule a conversation with me so we can chat about it.
The universe is always presenting us with ways to get to the goal that the ego mind doesn’t see as such. That’s why showing up fully for life in any moment — even in subtle, seemingly unimportant ways — is always, always, always the key to success.”
Have you ever felt yourself transforming, but couldn’t see what you were changing into yet?
I didn’t feel led to write my books like I was ‘supposed’ to be doing. My website process wasn’t going smoothly. I didn’t feel led to work on the digital products that I ‘should’ be selling……
When I went within to evaluate the part of my work that I really love – I found that the conversation/communication focus is my favorite. Initially, I was thinking in terms of service business owners – and then opened up to consider supporting the corporate professional as well (they have similar support needs).
THEN, I was shown *many* signs of “Diversity and Inclusion” and “Cross Cultural”. So, I also opened up to working with organizations and non-profits. Those initiatives need solid business conversation skills for sure.
As I was thinking about my business name and how Client Centric Growth no longer fits my new focus. I realized that “Mindful Business Matters” *does* fit! And, lo and behold, that has been the name of my Facebook business page for over a year, LOL!
The moral of the story is multi-faceted:
Be true to your purpose, keep taking steps, and stay aware…..
You’re running around doing *all* the things you think you’re supposed to be doing. But they don’t seem to be working like you thought they would.
You might even be questioning continued membership in certain groups or organizations because you’re not getting enough business from them.
How do you decide what stays and what goes?
Try my Dr. Seuss-like rhyme:
Who are you?
Who are they?
What do you do?
What do you say?
When you are solid about what you offer and why you’re doing what you’re doing – and you’re solid about specifically who you want to help – it makes it so much easier to decide the activities that you want to participate in – and then what to say at those activities.
The single biggest oversight I see service business owners make is……… not taking the time to think about WHO wants what they’re offering.
The second biggest oversight I see is……. because of the above, their message is diluted and uncompelling.
If the groups, organizations, or events you’re going to don’t have a high concentration of your ideal client – or those who are connected to your ideal client – then they may not be the right activities for you.
However, if the message you’re using at those events is diluted and uncompelling, then you aren’t drawing the right people to you anyway.
Repeat after me:
Who am I? (What is my ‘Why’ and my unique points of view about my work?)
Who are they? (What are the characteristics of the people I really want to help?)
What do I do? (What specific service do they want and where do I go to find them?)
What do I say? (What words will compel them to act or hire me?)
If you’re at a loss when answering any one of those questions, give me a call. I can help you get better results from the marketing activities you’re already doing.
Or does it feel a little awkward and uncomfortable? Maybe, you don’t particularly enjoy small talk –
or perhaps you just don’t know what to say.
I believe that networking has taken some strange turn – and it feels like everyone is there to
promote themselves instead of getting to know each other.
If you’re like me, that perspective about networking makes me uncomfortable.
So what to do?
Huh? What do you mean, Christine?
An ‘easy’ way to stand out in today’s networking world is to be your amazing REAL self.
You get to choose what you say and how you relate with others when networking.
If today’s environment gives you the heebie jeebies, then do something different than everyone else.
Be your real, sincere, and curious self.
Try this: when meeting someone, ask them about their hobbies, instead of about work.
You can even ask them if they’re planning a vacation and to where. Then listen.
That hardly ever happens when networking.
The best part is that you’re being your sincere and curious self, and you truly like to know
people on a deeper level anyway.
They’ll feel seen and heard. You won’t feel awkward.
And you’ll stand out. Just because you got real.
Now go forth and get real.