I quite enjoy networking, however, I do it best over the internet. I am very personable but I have found that I have been a networking wallflower when out of my comfort zone. Surely, I am not the only one who finds it difficult to start up a conversation with a potential business prospect?
At the commencement of 2014, I decided to pick an area of my business that I was not so good at and work on improving it over the coming 12 months. Networking is one of my main areas of preferred improvement.
After all, what is the use of having a business, a product or a service, if no-one knows about it?
So, I dived into my online networking journey and, to quote Susan Jeffers " I felt the fear... and did it anyway."
I joined online entrepreneur networks on Facebook, such as The SHEentrepreneur Success Club, Queensland Business and Queensland Bloggers Club and have been branching out to Twitter, Google +, Pinterest and now, SavvySME.
I am looking forward to braving a new frontier of face-to-face networking soon. As a part of my investigations, I have found some very good tips on how to approach networking, which I owe to Kylie Welsh - the Founder of SHE entrepreneurs. This is Kylie Welsh. She started her networking entrepreneur business approximately 5 years ago and built it up over that time. Now she provides professional mentoring for female business owners. I really enjoy her work.
Kylie Welsh offers an a free downloadable SHE entrepreneur Blueprint E-Book which I downloaded and have been actively consuming to help me with my business and networking goals for 2014.
I have learned some fantastic tips that I use now. Thing such as:
1. Wear an outfit that makes you feel super confident and fabulous about yourself is extremely important. Kylie is right, it is so important to feel good about yourself, especially when you are making a first impression with a new person who could be someone who can help you turn your 'straw into golden thread'.
2. Write interesting things that you learned about people on the back of their business cards. What a brilliant idea!
I will be doing this from now on. This is such a simple thing to do, but having a memory trigger to help you remember something special that is personally meaningful to the person you want to network with is gold. It's gold because it helps to build common ground, create credibility and rapport between you both.
3. Go to networking events alone. Oh dear, that can be rather frightening, however, I agree with Kylie Welsh, that is it good to get out of your comfort zone and make yourself meet new people. Kylie, quite rightly, points out that when you bring a friend along, it is easy to fall into the trap of standing back and talking to them instead of getting out to make real life face-to-face connections. It can be challenging to do this, especially if you are socially shy, but really, if you think about it, pretty much everyone else is feeling as alone as you are. So that should make it a little easier to extend your right hand in friendship and make a new acquaintance.
I know that I will be pushing myself to get out into the real world of networking and make some new friends who have aspirations to make their business not only survive, but THRIVE!
They are the kind of people I want to connect with. People who have a vision for a better future for themselves and for their clients and customers. I want to be inspired by other people and learn from them to.