There's something about the prospect of networking that makes me want to stay home, eat chocolate cake and binge-watch Peaky Blinders (underdogs are my weakness). I ask, as the founder of a new business, do we have to network to be successful, launch a product or get an idea off the ground?
At least not the kind of networking events that make you want to dive under the covers. Or send you into a cold sweat. Instead, start slow. Start by meeting with people who inspire you. One-on-one. People you know and trust. People who are willing to take time to sit down with you and share what they know.
Ask them to recommend people to meet with. Start making The List of People You Want To Work With and People Whose Advice You Trust. People in the business who are like-minded, generous, open, honest, community minded - and, don’t forget, inspiring.
Sometimes you just have to take a chance and make a call. Send an email. Ask. The meeting may not pay off. The individual may not be like minded, generous and open, but that disappointment is also a lesson. Whatever your business, these are the questions you will keep coming up against: Who do you want to work with? Who do you want to sell to? Who do you want to communicate with? When you’re starting out, networking brings you answers and gives you more questions. At the very least, networking keeps you moving.
You may ask yourself - What is the difference between good networking and bad networking?
If you feel drained after a networking event, figure out where things went awry. Was it them? Was it you? Was it just a bad day for everyone? You have skills. You’ve learned how to seek out the least treacherous path on the icy sidewalks (we’re in deep winter here), and you will learn how to navigate the meet and greet in all of its forms – small with coffee to large with name tags. Smarter people than me have compiled lists on how to master the art of networking. Here's one recommendation. Inc.Video 4 simple ideas about networking.
I could say there is no such thing as bad networking. Just like the old line about no such thing as bad publicity. Just as long as they get your name right. As the head of a new business, I am feeling like a bit of an underdog. And that’s OK. I’m reading all of the lists and making my own. I’m ready - bring it on -