In this article Kate Griffiths explains how networking is a vital part of the new paradigm and some of the dos and don’ts. It is vital to have a strong network as a small business because your business will grow through unqualified referrals. If you find your business is not growing at the pace that you want maybe you have inadvertently fallen into some of these traps.
There is a view that if you set all your intentions and are sending out the right energy frequencies then you will attract in the right people. Whilst I agree with that to a point, I think it takes a bit more than that. It’s like Mike Dooley said if you set a vision and then get in your car and don’t turn the engine on, you won’t get anywhere no matter how strong your vibrations. You have to set off in a direction for the Universe to then play its part of bringing opportunities to you. Or as my new friend Joe Segal wrote when explaining how to achieve inner peace:
Keep moving! Stagnation is unnatural and unhealthy. Everything in life moves and changes. Staying on your bum for hours on computers or reading and viewing the same things day after day is stagnation. Stretch! Reach out! Contact new people. Read new sources. Walk around the block. Rearrange your thoughts, priorities, your clutter. An active brain like an active body is a healthy one! Dwelling in one place or thought too long leads to attachment to it, restricting oneself from experiencing the joy and health of moving forward! Movement is health. Health brings peace!
Implicit in all of this is that you need to be visible and connect with people so that they can buy your stuff if they like your vibe. Networking has a part to play in this because it gives you a way to connect with others. So why isn’t it working for you? Let’s take a look at these scenarios and you see if any of them sound familiar:
1. There is a group that you go to full of like-minded people. You have a lovely time every time you go there and well it doesn’t cost much or it could even be free and it is so social and you get such a lovely feeling. Yes you need groups where you feel supported especially if you are standing on the edge of what is known and comfortable. However if this is the scenario you find yourself in, my guess is you are unlikely to ever get a sale. What can you do?
Review all the places that you show up in and take a long hard look. First what was the real cost? Much of what I used to attend was in London and I had to get a peak train ticket so that set me back at least £25. Then if they were at lunchtime I would have to buy lunch so add another £5-10 and if there was a small fee that would take the price of the event to £50 or £60. So if this is the case for you, ask yourself what is the actual value of attending this event? Am I learning and growing as a person? Am I getting any business either directly or via referrals? If the answer is no and you have tried it a number of times, it is probably time for a change.
When you take decisions like that you will find that you have created space for other opportunities to show up and they will. Yes it is about doing conscious business transparently but it is also about evaluating what’s working. Another way of doing this is to remove the head that is the analytical angle and just tune in energetically to your intuition. What does your wise self say? Is this for you?
Just as you prune back fruit bushes in your garden so you get a bumper crop the following year, it is key to take stock of all the activity you are undertaking and seeing what is working or not working. This does not mean attend a networking event once and make the decision at that point.
2. You actually don’t like networking events in fact you avoid them and do all your networking through social media. The thing is though that it seems to be really hard to sell places on your programmes and workshops.
Social media is great AND we are human beings. Would you buy something from someone you had never met? Perhaps if someone you trusted recommended them but if you just saw a message in FB group from someone you knew anything about would you buy? I think it is unlikely. It is one of the reasons that more and more business owners are vlogging because video does give you more of a sense of someone’s energy than just the word on the page. Please believe I am not slating social medial platforms – I have met some of those I consider to be in my inner circle through such mechanisms including via this blog. However that is only the first step. You need to then engage with folk either via skype, phone or in person.
3. You do go to networking events but you find it hard to talk to anyone and sometimes even feel excluded, there seems to be a bit of an in-crowd and you are not part of it. This makes you feel more self-conscious and less inclined to participate.
Our thoughts become things so it is crucial that you monitor yours otherwise what happens is that you have a negative thought, that makes you feel small, your energetic self shrinks and you become invisible to others. This is what we call a self-fulfilling prophecy. The key to this is to set a really positive intention before you go and listen to some powerful music as you travel there so you are in a space where you feel confident and ready for anything. Now stand back and see what happens.
4. You attend networking events regularly and don’t find them particularly scary. You meet lots of people and exchange lots of cards but then nothing seems to happen. It seems an endless round of activity with no progress on the business front.
Let me ask you this – how often do you end up asking the other person what they do and find yourself thinking about what you are going to say when they have finished. You just can’t wait to share with them all the amazing things you do. This is so old paradigm. It amounts to the pitch and switch. You share your piece, they share their piece, you swap cards and hope for the best. This strategy will never work because there has been no real connection made. What makes this person you have just met laugh? What are the things that you have in common? As Andy Lopata says in his book on referrals, networking meetings are the first step. If you are really serious about a person you have met, invest some time in getting to know them by having a one on one. Both of you as business owners have a reputation. You are unlikely to recommend people wholeheartedly to another business if you have only just met them.
I hope you have got some real aha moments from reading this article. I would love to hear what they are. My challenge to you is to think about what other questions you can ask people at networking events other than – what do you do? If you are already doing this share below specific questions that really worked and opened up the conversation for you in the past. As a peer of mine, Tilla Brook, says it is all in the question.
Kate Griffiths has worked as a change consultant and coach in a range of organisations for over twenty years. She now works primarily with conscious business owners and leaders that recognise the old paradigm way of doing things does not work and are trying to work out what the new ways of doing business look like. She is passionate about creating conversations that lead to change and has developed her own process to do that called connection through conversation. She also leads mindfulness workshops and leadership programmes for soulpreneurs. If you want to get a flavour of her work then do sign up for the morning taster session she is running on 8 November – http://bit.ly/1a5ANay