Congratulations! If you are reading this book, you are prioritizing networking and making relationships that work for you and your career or business. 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 same desire to avoid networking events altogether but have accepted that they are necessary.
You have been told that networking was important, that meeting people was necessary, and 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 wrote this book to help you stop wasting time networking and be more effective and inclusive when building relationships.
Before we dive into the contents of this book, let’s address a few of the more common complaints around networking:
Meeting strangers is scary. Unless you are a hermit, you have a lot of experience meeting people. Some of your closest friends started as strangers. You met while playing ball together as kids (or adults), at a neighborhood block party, when you were volunteering, at your best friend’s wedding, working together, or at a random bar one night while out with friends. You know how to do this. You have met strangers that became strong connections in your life. Networking is not that different and doesn’t have to happen only at “networking events.” With some planning and goal setting, you will be able to build on your previous experience and become more successful at “networking.”.
Networking is exhausting. There are several reasons you may be experiencing this. The main one is that you haven’t felt like going to events and meetings has led to any results. So, of course, repeating that repeatedly will feel exhausting and pointless. It also may be that you find it draining to be around people and recharge best when alone. If that feels familiar, you likely identify more as an introvert on the Myers-Briggs scale. What if you could attend an event for just one hour and leave feeling like you had accomplished your networking goals? That is possible when you know your purpose in attending this particular event and have set goals that keep you circulating during that first hour.
It’s a waste of time. On the other end of the Myers-Briggs scale are extroverts who get energized being around people. So they won’t find networking exhausting but may still feel like it is a waste of their time. If you go out to 3 or more events a month or perhaps even three or more a week, you would expect to see results from all of your effort. Without a solid plan, attending scattershot events and buzzing around the room making small talk will make you wonder if it’s all worth it. Collecting stacks of business cards each month is not the point of attending these events. Having a clear sense of purpose and specific goals will help you make the most of these encounters. Knowing how to use your extroverted privilege to help others connect and feel welcomed in the room will make you a sought-after attendee.
As I said, I wrote this book to help you be more effective and inclusive when networking. You would want to be more effective, but you may be wondering what being inclusive has to do with networking.
Othering and only-ness. You are not alone if you have ever walked into an event, not known anyone, circled the room, and felt like you didn’t belong. You look around and everyone else seems to be easily chatting as if they are with their best friends, but you feel like the only _____ in the room. This feeling of “only-ness” is exacerbated when the difference is singled out within moments of starting a conversation – this could be by observation or curious question. In this book, I will give concrete examples of avoiding comments and questions that result in othering. If you are trying to be effective when networking, you will want to avoid these awkward moments, making it challenging to build a good connection.
Role of hosts. Inclusion is not just about avoiding awkward questions or wrong assumptions. And it is also about being a good host and connector. If you attend an organization’s events frequently enough to be considered a regular, you will become known by other regulars. This will help you get into conversations with other regulars and also be a connector who helps newcomers engage in the room. In this book, I will share different ways you can take on the role of host, even if you had nothing to do with booking the event. Event organizers and meeting professionals can ask regulars to step into a host role, thereby helping make connections in the room and also helping with the retention of regulars. It’s a real win-win strategy that we will explore in more detail in this book.
Body language. We have all experienced those networking circles that feel impossible to break into. Everyone else in the room seems like they are engrossed in a group conversation, and you are the one left out. On an individual level, you can begin to shift the culture of an event by being intentionally open in your body language. Event organizers can use this information to train their volunteers, staff, board members, and select regulars – and the improved ease of moving in and out of conversations will be felt by everyone in attendance. This book includes diagrams to help you improve your stance so you will become easier to approach and less likely to be stuck in a conversation. This concept is called Bagels vs. Croissants and has been the most memorable tip from my Art of the Schmooze session.
Read this book to broaden what networking is and can be. If you have always thought networking was summed up by “what’s in it for me?” you will find alternative approaches and expanded definitions. The world revolves around relationships and the power of our networks. This book is meant to inspire you to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people. I will be sharing both success stories and examples of what not to do.
Success stories. Some will be my own stories of grassroots community building and networking as a new parent. Full disclosure: I’m an outgoing extrovert who loves to convene people and organize events. I’m well aware of the privilege I experience as an outgoing extrovert and will share many ways shy or introverted people can be seen, heard, and respected when attending events and conferences. To show the range of what is possible, I will be sharing stories of shy introverts gaining the confidence to build community and become recognized experts in their field.
If you have attended a networking event, you have experienced lousy networking techniques. Sharks are only there to meet their needs and have nothing to offer—pushy people who talk too much and make others feel like outsiders, creating an unwelcome environment. You can learn many lessons from each of these stories.
Suppose you have limited your networking strategies to “networking events,” you are missing a lot of potential connections. Practice your approach when the stakes aren’t as high to feel more confident when you need to make a strong connection.
Networking can occur anywhere when you least expect it at the Starbucks in the conference hotel or while waiting at the DMV. You don't consider a ” networking event ” when you are at an event that you don’t consider a “networking event,” such as an author event or professional development training. Conferences offer opportunities to learn from recognized experts in your field and strengthen your professional network. This book will help you be prepared to take advantage of these big and small networking moments.
Ways networking can help you. Job hunting is one of the top reasons people say they
need to network. If you limit your job search to who your closest family and friends know – and they can’t help you – you will not be successful. If you are in sales or fundraising, you will need to leave your office to meet potential clients and prospective donors. Once networking is reframed as relationship building, you will realize the unlimited potential. As a new parent, you will be able to build community with other new parents. You’ll be able to find support for the causes you care about and inspire others to volunteer with you. This book will help you reframe networking to realize the potential all around you.
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.”
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