If you have been listening to my podcast, you are clearly prioritizing networking and creating relationships that work for you and your career or business. That said, you probably also have some anxiety around doing all of this. For many, the idea of meeting with strangers ranks somewhere around the thrill of going to the dentist. They would rather skip all of this fuss and just put their head down and do their work. You may have felt the desire to avoid networking events altogether, but have come to accept that they are necessary.
You have been told that networking was important, that meeting people was critical for your success, that your business would grow if you made the right kinds of connections. Your experience has left you feeling exhausted just thinking about going back out to yet another networking event. I host this podcast, and I’m launching a book this summer, to help you stop wasting time networking and be more strategic, effective, and inclusive when building great relationships.
Networking can take place anywhere.
Networking isn’t something that only happens at specific kinds of events. You can make a connection when you least expect it at the Starbucks in the conference hotel or while waiting at the DMV. When you are at an event that you don’t consider a “networking event,” such as an author event or professional development training. Conferences in particular offer many opportunities to network, including meeting recognized experts in your field and strengthening your professional network. My book will help you be prepared to take advantage of these big and small networking moments.
Why did I focus the book on conferences?
Learning opportunities are everywhere you look these days: blogs, podcasts, webinars, YouTube, and just by scrolling through Twitter. You might be wondering then why anyone would spend considerable time and money attending a conference. It’s true, content is everywhere, but none of the virtual options can match the benefits of an in- person event.
First and foremost, attending conferences is an investment in yourself. If you are serious about getting ahead in your career and making great connections in your field, then invest in yourself by attending a conference. Yes, you’ll be taking precious time away from work – and home – and sometimes the cost to attend will come out of your pocket. That’s why you’ll want to make a big return on your investment.
Networking is a major benefit of attending conferences. One that can produce incredible dividends for your career or business. Meet the people who’s work inspires you, meet your competition, meet people to be in a mastermind group with or to join your personal board of directors – this is what’s possible if you attend a conference.
Most people are not natural networkers and going to large events will likely be outside your comfort zone. You are probably listening to this episode because you’re already sold on the importance of networking at conferences, but you haven’t always felt like you make the most of these opportunities. You may even think they are a waste of your time and you would be more productive staying home instead of leaving the office for a few days to attend a conference.
Does this sound familiar? Year after year, you attend myriad events, conferences, and conventions. You collect dozens of business cards at each of these events and bring them back to the office with good intentions to do follow-up. You place them next to your keyboard and later in the week you move them, adding them to the pile you already have on the back corner of your desk. In a few months, you’ll decide it’s time for spring cleaning and move all of these business cards that have scattered across your desk – neatly stacked of course – into a drawer. A year later you’ll find them in your drawer, not remember where they were from or what follow-up you had done or planned to do – so you recycle them. And then you head right back out to another event and start the cycle all over again.
There is a difference between collecting business cards and building relationships.
Don’t give up on conferences though! In an age where information is found with one click, and we count “likes” as engagement, conferences hold the promise of meaningful in-person connection with like-minded colleagues. Only through thoughtful and strategic planning will this promise become a reality.
I believe what sets my book apart from other books about networking is the focus on being inclusive when building relationships. If you want to be truly effective you’ll need to be inclusive when networking. In practice, being inclusive means being thoughtful about the questions we ask, being aware of how our body language makes us easier or harder to approach, and overall having a host mentality.
So, what does this have to do with bagels and croissants?
Ok, ok, I’m getting to that.
Quite a bit of the conference actually takes place outside of breakout sessions, so you’ll need to know how to navigate the vibrant chaos of the hallway and crowded receptions. I’ve been leading sessions on networking for nearly a decade and what I’m about to
share is by far my most memorable takeaway, and thus the title of my book. It’s about body language and what you can do to help make the conference a more welcoming and inclusive space.
Let’s say that on the first day of the conference, there is 30-minute block on the schedule for networking. You gamely head into the hallway, grab a cup of coffee, and begin to circle the space looking for an opening for your first conversation. You are not having a lot of success, because you are surrounded by people in tight networking circles. I call these shoulder-to-shoulder huddles “bagels” and they are nearly impossible to break into.
If you are like most people you’ll be looking for an easy opening. Not seeing one, you might circle the room and then head to your next breakout session early. Which means you are missing out on all of the possible connections happening in the hallway between sessions.
If it feels too early to go to the next breakout session, you might be drawn to the person standing by themselves against the wall. If this is your first time at this conference, I wouldn’t suggest talking to wallflowers. Even if that’s a great conversation, the ending is going to be very awkward. Neither of you knows other people at the event so you can’t make introductions. Your best bet is to engage with folks in those bagels.
On the other hand, if you’ve attended this event a few times. You should go talk to the wallflowers. Because regulars know other people in the room, going over to talk to a wallflower can be a great way to be welcoming and help the wallflower engage in the space.
Now imagine you’re one of the people standing in a typical networking bagel. If you took a small step back with one foot and turned your torso slightly, you’d create an opening that would make it easier for someone to join your group. That is the croissant we’re looking for.
Why would you want to be easy to approach?
You are at this conference to meet people, right? Or else you could have stayed home and just purchased an online course to learn the same mater
ABOUT ROBBIE: www.robbiesamuels.com/about
Business Growth Strategy Coach
Robbie coaches inspiring entrepreneurial women in their 50s and beyond (and a few awesome men) to grow their impact and income by building an audience before launching new revenue streams.
WHO YOU ARE:
You want to have a greater impact and increased income. The problem is that there are so many options for how to build your business that you can feel stuck, overwhelmed, and like you’re running out of time.
The reason options are overwhelming is that you’re looking at them as a series of disconnected steps when to make the most of your time, you need a strategy that connects only the most important and highest impact ones.
You know that if you try to do everything, you’ll accomplish nothing. This means, to achieve your goal, you have to invest in a strategy to put time on your side.
WAYS ROBBIE OFFERS SUPPORT:
As a relationship-based business growth strategist, Robbie will work with you one-on-one to design a year-long plan that consists of three 12-week sprints, each followed by 4 weeks of reflection/assessment, rejuvenation, learning, and strategic planning. This will allow you to sequence your goals, create momentum, and leverage your limited time.
Have a project that you want feedback on or need assistance with a specific strategy? He offers half-day strategy sessions.
Already selling but feeling stuck around how to increase your revenue? Sign up for a one-day mastermind with fellow entrepreneurs to break through to the next level.
Ready to dig into your network to validate a solution you’ve been working on to see if you can build an audience for it before launching? Sign up for 12 Weeks to Create Your Irresistible Offer program.
Want accountability, support, and guidance as you implement your strategic plan? Learn more about his year-long Wake Up Your Network mastermind program.
These are not right for everyone; they're personalized offerings and are priced accordingly.
WHAT MIGHT YOU WORK ON?
In his coaching work with entrepreneurs, his clients focus on the areas where they'd like to grow, which may include:
- Creating a strong sales conversation framework
- Building your referral network
- Lead generation through a relationships
- Growing your visibility in your industry
- Increasing your ability to attract the right kind of clients
- Identifying and launching a minimally viable offer
- Breaking through whatever bottleneck is holding you back from getting the results you want and deserve
- Becoming a published author and marketing your book successfully
- Improving your virtual presentation skills
LEARN MORE AND SCHEDULE A CHAT: www.robbiesamuels.com/coaching
Robbie is excited to support you in reaching or exceeding your goals.
Interested in booking Robbie to speak? At www.robbiesamuels.com/speaking you’ll find video clips and a description of his talks.
Watch his TEDx talk “Hate networking? Stop bageling and be the croissant!” at www.robbiesamuels.com/TEDx.
- Connect with Robbie on LinkedIn
- @RobbieSamuels on Twitter and Instagram
- New to his website? Start here
- On the Schmooze podcast archive – weekly since July 2016!
SIGN UP for his free weekly #NoMoreBadZoom Virtual Happy Hours – www.NoMoreBadZoom.com
Affiliate Links: Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links above are “affiliate links”. This means that if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products and services I use personally and believe will add value to my listeners. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
This post was exported in one click from Google Docs into WordPress with Wordable.