When you’re used to working as part of a team and in an office, it can be pretty lonely when you first set out in becoming an entrepreneur. So when I started my first business, I was keen to get out into the world of entrepreneurs and make some valuable connections!
If like me, you’ve left a successful and professional career, whilst family and friends are supportive, they can also be concerned about how quickly you can get your business up and running so you can pay your bills. The fear of others who care about us is disheartening in our plight of creating a successful business for freedom we crave.
Initially, finding entrepreneurial network meetings was like a breath of fresh air. Finding new friends who become like new colleagues you get to choose rather than be just stuck with, plus collaborators and people who totally understand your mission for success on your terms. Networking felt like a much needed lifeline for me, I was not alone in risking everything for the freedom I needed.
But as my coaching business began to take off, I found the free events I had been attending become difficult to attend due to my busy diary full of coaching appointments. When I did make the time to attend, the event then had the opposite effect I desired. Those who were there were often talking about the feast to famine cycle as an entrepreneur or the fact there was not enough clients or money. I was no longer aligned with the conversations going on and they were in fact dampening my mindset rather than enhancing it. It suddenly became counter-productive.
At a business event I paid to go to, I heard one man sighing before complaining to the person who had introduced himself to him as a business coach that ‘there was just too many business coaches out there’. Immediately that was not a conversation I wanted or needed to have, neither was it something I felt to be true as my business was going from strength to strength. I wasn’t there in a desperate need to ‘get’ clients but simply to spend time with likeminded people and build relationships as I did.
So what is the real value of networking if it’s not to ‘get’ clients or new work? Well that depends.
Firstly, set your intention before attending an event. Why are you going? What is your purpose?
An intention to ‘get’ clients often creates a needy and desperate energy around you. But an intention to build relationships and to meet like minded people as well having some fun along the way is a totally different ball game.
Secondly, I also set an intention to listen to other people far more than ‘pitching’ myself or my business. If I have to pitch, I talk about my story and me far more than what I am selling.
I am there to build relationships and get to know people. So be open and simply intend to connect with people, to really find out about them. By doing this I have also made a great many friends from networking.
Thirdly, find your tribe. Be wise in attending networking events with people who are on a similar level to you. Free networking events are great when you are starting out but may not feel so great when you are rocking it at a different level. That is a great time to think about attending paid events to find a different vibration of people and entrepreneurs. Remember paid events are also a tax deductible expense!