In early December, I decided to attend a networking event.
The type where I would know no-one.
This also involved:
- booking my daughter into the school’s breakfast club so I could leave mega early
- organising the dog walker so our furry friend didn’t pee all over the floor
- travelling for three (incredibly cold) hours to marvellous Manchester
- walking (often quite aimlessly – screw you, Google Maps) through Manchester to try and find the ruddy venue
Reading it back now, it already seems like a helluva lotta effort.
So why did I friggin’ bother?
Aim: meet Carrie Green, Female Entrepreneur Association
The event was organised by the Female Entrepreneur Association (FEA), led by Carrie Green.
I’ve been in FEA’s membership group since early 2019, and have to admit that I kept a pretty low profile within the group at first.
I wanted to find a supportive group of like-minded women, but felt tentative about getting involved in the online conversations.
Instead, I dived into the amazing training content – there really are so many masterclasses to choose from, all presented by guest experts in their field. The content alone felt like I was getting real value for money.
It would have been easy for me to feel overwhelmed, but I had read posts in the group which recommended which training to start with.
To say that one masterclass, Lead Your Business Like a CEO, revolutionised my business would be a massive understatement.
Not only did it help me break down my goals into actionable steps, I had the comfort blanket of the membership group behind the scenes so I could dip in and read the comments for extra support.
By April 2019, just a few months after joining, I had ticked through every single goal on my list for the first half of the year!
I had: moved into an office space, hired my first employee, launched training content AND bought my own car (which felt like the biggest achievement of them all – the ultimate freedom!).
I honestly believe that I wouldn’t have achieved so much if I hadn’t joined FEA, completed that masterclass and broken down my goals into weekly action steps.
So thinking about this networking event, clearly I wanted to meet Carrie and her awesome team.
That meeting has been on my wish list for ruddy years – ever since I read She Means Business.
But attending an event where I didn’t actually know anyone in order to do that? That’s not in my comfort zone one little bit.
Here’s how I survived.
Survival technique 1: create meaningful connections (…and be remembered)
The introvert in me doesn’t enjoy chit chat, so my version of networking is meeting just a few people and having proper conversations. About work, sure, but that only tells me so much about their life.
I love to hear about their family, what they do at weekends, how they’re spending their Christmas, and all that other stuff that makes up their personality.
When I know that people do business with those who tick all the ‘know, like and trust’ boxes, by taking the time to focus on establishing common ground and building rapport, I know I’ll be memorable for all the right reasons.
The wrong reasons would include “working the room” – blurgh! Or playing the “how many business cards can I hand out in one day” game. 😱
These meaningful conversations not only helped me learn more about others, but they allowed me to talk about what I did and how I could help in a really lovely, non-pushy, non-spammy way.
I didn’t speak with my “ideal client” at this networking event, and I’m a-okay with that.
Because, instead, I was able to form connections which meant I’ve already gone on to be recommended to others who are my ideal clients, simply because I took the time to have meaningful conversations.
Survival technique 2: be kind (…and be remembered)
This isn’t just advice that I give to my six-year-old daughter! And sometimes it’s so simple that it’s easily forgotten.
By being kind, displaying good manners (and okay, I am a bit sweary – but you can have good manners and throw in an f-bomb every now and then, I think) it’s easy to be remembered for the right reasons.
For instance, one lady had walked into the room and was clearly unsure where to go. By this point, everyone had already formed little groups and many were displaying the type of body language that indicated the conversation was closed to newbies.
I invited this lady over to join our conversation, and she was immediately grateful. It turned out that she had recently hired a VA but didn’t know what to do next. Luckily for her, I have an onboarding guide, and I promised to gift her a copy. ‘Cause I’m nice like that.
Survival technique 3: say thank you (…and be remembered)
I’m also a big believer in saying thank you and sending thank you messages. Again, it’s ridiculously simple but rarely done… so you immediately stand out.
I expressed thanks to the organisers while at the event but knew I was just another face in a sea of people that day, so I also sent thank you messages when I returned to the desk to make it more personalised.
There’s a theme here: be remembered
How many business cards do you think I gave out that day?
With my aim to create meaningful connections, I was never going to be handing out business cards left, right and centre.
Instead, I gave out just six business cards that day.
And I’ll be remembered because I took the time to listen.
I know I’ll be memorable for all the right reasons.
And, for me, that’s forged far better connections than “working the room” ever could.
Did I meet Carrie?
I did! 🤩
And she was just as lovely in-person as she is online.
She even gifted me a moment of her time to sign two of her She Means Business books – one for me and one for my business bestie, Sarah-Jane Heath. #lucky #winning