Ugh – Networking Tips.
Is your skin crawling yet?
If networking makes you think of bad appetizers, awkward ‘what do you do?” conversations, lots of business cards with no actual business follow up, and your introverted feelings of “I’d rather be at home with my dog and blankets” come out; then I’d love for you to try this easy mind shift.
Because I GET IT.
I hate small talk. I’m terrible at the “go up and casually introduce yourself”. I mean, have we met? THAT IS NOT MY SPEED.
The first time I met someone from Instagram in real life (IRL, as the kids say), I literally said, “hi, I’m Kate…from the internet.”‘ (haha heyyy Julie 😉)
The best networking is done in order to grow personal connections, make new business friends and build a support system for your business. But instead it becomes an exhausting + awkward time suck.
What do so many of us get wrong?
Because we don’t have the right goals for networking – assuming we set any goals at all – many of us go to networking events “to meet people”. What does that mean? We assume “meeting people” will get our name out there and we look at how it can benefit us. And that’s where things start to go wrong.
Rather than taking a “what’s in it for me?” approach (because you know everyone there is so why would they help you); work to build a network that benefits your customer. With this simple mind shift, you’ll start to see networking in a whole new light.
Ick-Free Networking for Introverts
The secret to networking is, wait for it…. focusing on your customer.
If she was in the room today:
- Who would she want to know more about?
- What businesses would she be interested in?
- What does she need help with?
Seek out other businesses that answer one of those questions from a complementary industry and build your network from there.
Why? Because you are now building a network of solid referrers that all revolve around your core customer! Everyone’s business points back to her; which means everyone has her best interests in mind. It’s the greatest win-win.
We’re all inherently selfish – everyone that goes to networking events has the end goal of growing their business. They’re not naturally going to be invested and interested in helping you grow yours. Which is why this shift can be so valuable.
Instead of approaching another business owner with the goal of creating a meaningful relationship, in hopes of them eventually promoting your business or helping you gain new contacts… You’re approaching them saying, ‘oh hey, I noticed our customers are similar. I’d love to share your service/product to my audience since it fills a need I don’t provide. Would you be interested in discussing?’ ps. not a real script 🙂 – sound like a human.
When your goal switches to intentionally focusing on providing the utmost value to your customer, suddenly networking can take on a whole new meaning.
Based on the product/value/service you provide, identify what else your customer might need.
For example, if you make and sell wedding veils, you could reach out to partner with:
- Floral boutiques
- Wedding jewelry shops
- Stationery designers
- Wedding photographers
Plus, this could be a great way to later partner together on blog posts or share them with your audience via affiliate links to earn a little extra income. You can learn more about using affiliate marketing for online shops here. It especially works great for Etsy shops as Etsy actually pays the affiliate income, so it’s at no cost to your partner shop owner!
Approaching networking with this focus allows you to build a network of professionals that all cater to a similar client/customer so you can refer one another, guest post on each others blogs, and cross-promote on social media all while being insanely valuable to your customer.
- Create a list of 3-5 types of businesses that support your core customer
- Research specific company targets using Instagram, Pinterest, or your favorite blogs
- Connect with them on social media and start to engage with them and grow your relationship
On the flip side, it’s also valid to attend networking events where you want to meet others in your same industry/field in the hopes of connecting or learning from them. It all just comes back to goals. Don’t blindly sign up for a stationery business networking event unless your goal is to learn + partner with other stationery shop owners. It’s all about understanding ‘why’ you’re networking and what you want to achieve.
What networking tips do you find useful?
Join The Shop Squad Facebook community and start “networking” away!
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