For many conscious entrepreneurs that’s akin to a four-letter word. Let’s be real – most women know that they need to network, but very few actually like to do it!
Maybe you feel awkward talking about what you do, or maybe you think it’s a waste of time because you’ve tried it and haven’t gotten clients, or you think it takes too much time, or any number of other reasons to get out of it altogether.
Truth is, even in today’s online world, networking is still an important activity to build your business – especially when you’re just starting out.
Yes, there are ways to make connections online. But if you can’t have a meaningful conversation with someone about what you do in the Real World, you’re unlikely to be able to build those connections from behind your computer.
At its core, business is about relationships – whether you’re at 10k per year (that was me, back in 2007!) or 10 million per year.
So how can you network in a way that feels good AND attracts your ideal clients?
Try these strategies for authentic, magnetic networking without all the weirdness:
- YOU lead the conversation.
Yes, YOU start the conversation! This puts you in the driver’s seat, and is of service to others who are just as nervous…. as you used to be. 😉
Extend your hand and start with this CLASSIC Icebreaker question:
“Hi, I’m [NAME]… I don’t think we’ve met yet. What’s your name?”
Followed by “Tell me about your business…”
People will literally be thanking you on the inside for making the first move so they don’t have to. And it always feels more empowering to be in your leadership.
- Get curious and be of service.
Instead of approaching networking from the place of what you hope to GET (clients), approach it from what you can GIVE. Get curious and find out how you can help each person you meet. Possible questions:
“What are you looking for next?” (great for social, outside-of-biz events)
“Who makes an ideal client for you?” (great for biz events)
“When it comes to [X], what’s your biggest challenge?”
“What do you need right now to take your biz/life to the next level?
While you’re talking, you’re listening for opportunities to serve, whether it’s your service or someone else you can connect them with.
You do NOT have to solve their problems, fix them on the spot or give them all the answers! You’re listening for opportunities to offer them a tip, a connection, or a resource… including your service if it’s a fit.
If they aren’t a fit themselves, ask them who they know who would benefit from the transformation or result you provide and ask them to make an introduction.
- Have a breakthrough session offer ready to go.
Before you go to any event, have a simple offer ready to go to invite potential clients to have a conversation with you. When you meet someone who’s a good candidate for your work, you can say:
“If I could show you how to [X], would you like to hear more about it?”
If they say yes, “Great, I have a special session that I’ve created especially for [WHO] that want [RESULT]. I make a few of these available as a gift each month, and I’d love for one of those to be yours. Would you like to set that up?”
Then, get out your calendars and book the appointment right then and there!
(Don’t know what a breakthrough session is? Check out this article to learn more)
- Do your homework.
Research the groups you’re attending before you go. Who are their members? What is their main focus? What kinds of related services or problems are these people likely to invest in? Who else might be there who serves a similar audience who you could collaborate with?
With a little forethought and research, it’s not hard to figure out if your ideal potential clients are likely to be in the room. You don’t have to go to every networking event to be successful, just the right ones!
- Grab the mike!
In other words, be visible! If you’re at a networking event in which there’s an opportunity to ask a question or share an insight in front of the group, take it.
Most likely you’ll have an opportunity to introduce yourself before asking your question, and this is a fabulous way to let the whole room know who you are and what you do. This is even more powerful when you have a great “what do you do” statement already written and rehearsed.
- Have a sense of adventure.
Networking isn’t jus about getting clients. It’s about meeting people and expanding your field. You could meet fabulous JV partners, referral sources, someone who could connect you with a speaking opportunity, or even just a great friend to be accountability buddies with. When you approach your networking with the mindset “I cant wait to see who I meet today,” there are so many more possibilities.
- Be consistent.
It takes more than just one fly-by appearance to build relationships. Timing is everything, and sometimes people aren’t quite ready for what you offer. Once you find a few groups or events that are aligned for you, you want to show up again and again, and use the strategies above to ask new questions and deepen those relationships.
And finally, make your measure of success not how many business cards you collected or how many appointments you booked, but how YOU showed up and added value. That value is always returned to you in one way or another.