Networking is a bit like marmite. Don’t you think?
Either you relish the opportunity to meet like-minded people in a buzzy environment or the thought of approaching strangers with your ‘elevator pitch’ leaves you cold.
I used to fall squarely into the second group. How about you?
Thanks to a shift in the way I view networking, that’s all changed now. There’s no denying it can be a really great way of connecting with potential collaborators as well as new clients. And it can make the self-employment path seem less isolating, less daunting, more supportive. You can help each other by remembering people in context and sending potential clients who are a genuine fit their way. Approached with the right mindset, it can absolutely be a win-win.
It still wouldn’t be my first choice of marketing technique
As an introvert, networking is more of a stretch for me. (Trust me here. You don’t have to do any one particular thing). But people do buy from people (they trust). And networking is certainly one way of helping people gauge whether there’s likely to be a fit, a connection. Or not.
There’s no such thing as competition when you’re simply being you
If you’re familiar with my philosophy, you’ll know I champion authenticity in business. There’s more than enough to go around. No two coaches, consultants, therapists, counsellors etc… are the same. We all have a unique way of working, of thinking, of seeing the world, a different vibe, business structure, different outcomes and areas of expertise which will make us an ideal fit for some – and a no go zone for others.
And that’s OK.
Authentic networking groups
So imagine the relief I felt when finding a growing number of authentic networking groups – ones that openly promote the opportunity to show up and step up as your true self. To mingle with like-minded people who are looking to attract more of the right type of people into their businesses and see networking as one fine way to help them achieve that. No elevator pitch required. Hurrah!
Bingo! Seems like a fit. An ideal opportunity to learn and grow, to be my imperfect self, to share experiences and challenges with like-minded people, to support and champion others in their cause and collaborate with those in complementary fields.
Except they weren’t
Because there was someone else already a part of that group with ‘Marketing’ in their title or ‘Business’ or ‘Mentoring’ or ‘Coach’. (Yes, it’s happened to me on more than one occasion).
I understand the thinking. But I think it’s misguided.
And I think it’s plain wrong to promote a group as championing authenticity then judge people on their process alone, turn them away because they are being true to who they are or invite them to keep quiet about a particular aspect of their business. (Yep, I’ve seen that too).
So I invite you to consider
Imagine if instead of being labelled according to the process we use in our businesses, we were celebrated according to our purpose, our niche, our role in the community. Two business mentors, two Reiki Masters, two accountants, two holistic practitioners …. so what! Where there’s help and hope available, I believe we have a duty to let people know about it. And surely the truly authentic networking groups would help facilitate this outcome. #justsaying.
Over to you
Do you thrive on networking or is it more of a stretch for you? Have you ever been asked to quash part of your true vibe, pretend to be something you aren’t so you can tap into the support of like-minded self-employed people? Or is it just me? Your voice is the only thing missing from this post so please do leave your comments in the box below.