You know you “need” to network. So, you begrudgingly pay the $40 for the event, you put on your uncomfortable “networking” outfit that makes you feel awkward, make sure your lipstick is on, and get to the networking meeting. The room is filled with strangers, so you nervously get yourself a drink because you’re not sure what else to do… Maybe this time you find one person who seems somewhat friendly and you latch onto them for dear life. Maybe you feel anxious about your experience, so you don’t talk to anyone. Or maybe you get trapped in a conversation with someone you immediately know you can’t stand. And you wonder, WHY am I doing this? Why can’t I just email people from the safety and comfort of my sofa (while wearing my Snuggie!)?
And there you are, back at work the next day, with $40 less and nothing to show for it.
So, why should you network? Because you – and your business or your Soul-Centered Projects – don’t operate in a vacuum. No one can achieve great success alone. It’s really difficult to attract in prospective clients, business partners, suppliers, and even employees if you aren’t willing to connect with others and create relationships.
Yet sometimes, traditional networking can feel uncomfortable, scary, weird, or unnatural. Many of us lack the confidence to walk into a room and “work” it because to do so requires an act or set of behaviors that are unfamiliar and feel inauthentic. What you need is to learn how to network in a Soul-Centered way that is aligned with YOU.
Networking and How I Hated It!
When I first started networking, I absolutely hated it. I hated showing up to events that were often early in the morning, slapping on a nametag, and performing my one-minute elevator speech. I was scared of going to networking meetings and telling people about my coaching practice because I didn’t want them to reject me or judge me. I was scared of making myself vulnerable by letting people know about what I did and that I was looking for business. It was a RISK for me to put myself out there without knowing how my networking might turn out.
After WAY too many unsuccessful networking endeavors that ended up with me feeling like my time would have been better spent doing ANYTHING else, I decided it was time to network in a different way. In a “soul-centered” way. And once I did that – everything changed. All of the sudden, I started looking forward to networking events and I’d leave the evening with many new contacts and prospects. I even started to have FUN at networking events! And the more fun I had, the more successful an evening it was.
Soul-Centered Networking: What it’s Not
Soul-Centered networking is NOT about making up stories about who you are or what you do. It’s NOT about trying to sound like someone else or saying what you think the other person wants to hear. It’s NOT about attending a meeting or event that feels misaligned or tedious for you (even though you think your target audience will be there). It’s not about giving your contact info to people you don’t feel connected to or don’t want to speak to again; it’s not about talking only about yourself or having a conversation with someone and talking only about them. Throw all these ideas away.
What It IS
Soul-centered networking IS about bringing yourself and your work authentically and confidently to a conversation with another person, and being genuinely interested and curious about that person. Networking and marketing are all about creating relationships – that is what’s MOST important. It’s that simple! My gift to you, below are three Soul-Centered networking practices that will help you have much more effective, much more fun networking experiences. You can start using them TODAY:
Three Simple Practices:
- Write It Out— Before you go to a networking event, make a script of what you are going to say about yourself and your business. Be clear on how you talk about yourself and your work – and who you work with. The exact words aren’t essential, and you should be able to adapt to different groups or individuals you are talking to, but what must come through is your PASSION. Talk about how you help people. Connect to the part of you that is confident and KNOWS what an impact you are here to make.
- Go Where You’re Happy—Network in places that are aligned for you. If you’re not into formal networking events, then skip them! Think about environments where you naturally shine: volunteer events & associations, your kid’s school or parent groups, your place of spiritual practice, parties, conferences, even attending a class that interests you. Be open to the fact that networking can happen anywhere.
- Make the Connection—When you meet someone at a networking meeting or event, allow a heart connection to emerge – don’t put up your defenses. Each person is there to connect, just like you. First and foremost, remember that the other person is a human being – not some evil robot! Before any words come out of your mouth, allow for an energetic connection to happen. This works in business networking but also for all human relationships – even dating!
Finally, believe in yourself and follow your instincts. When you meet people who you feel no connection with, it’s okay to politely move on. But when you feel an energetic connection, absolutely engage, allow your curiosity to open the conversation, and don’t forget to follow up!
I have many, many more Soul-Centered networking tools that I will share with you in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, here’s my homework for you: make a goal right now of attending one networking event in the next month. Connecting in a Soul-Centered way will bring more people into your circles, create more powerful relationships, and reveal ways these people can help you. Get out there, and let me know how it goes!