Starting out as a solopreneur 4 years ago I was completely overwhelmed. I had to do everything and be everything all at once. For the first time in my career, I was in charge of drumming up new business and not just managing it. Contrary to my previous beliefs, new business rarely comes to find you – you have to go out and hunt for it. T
he most successful hunting grounds for me were always in a networking arena – be it in person, online or socially when finding you have a common interest with a new person you come across.
My first experience of wetting my big toe in the networking space, was online where I came across a Group which was wildly active and full of feisty, incredibly ambitious individuals who seemed to have it all figured out. I later found that they did have it all together to a point, but they are all human too. When I finally started to interact with fellow members there was a big drive for local community meet ups to form and such began the beginning of my dive in, head first experience of in-person networking journey. This is the magic of networking…
the magic of networking
Moving from an online interaction to an in-person networking environment was personally daunting, super awkward and uncomfortable for me.
I used to have this internal dialogue with myself asking…
“what will these people think of me?”
“How can I walk into a room and confidently introduce myself?”
“How can I even explain what I do – its so complicated….”
And so many other thoughts that was me talking myself out of going and out of experiencing something that was so crucial to my confidence of showing up and being proud of who I am, what my company is and what I do for people on a day to day basis.
Even though at first, I am shy, I am quite bold once I feel comfortable and fortunately, I have a bold curiosity for finding out about people, especially about finding out what makes them tick. This inquisitive side of me ultimately leads to me generally finding out how they manage to survive and thrive and I quickly figured out by asking relevant questions to the people you connect with at these events ends up in amazing conversations.
Along my journey of networking I have learnt some key networking pointers
key networking pointers
- Show up and be present.
- Learn how to introduce yourself and your business.
- Learn how you are relevant to current events, the theme of the event and contribute.
- Take an interest in others and their businesses, even if you think that these may not be of use to you.
- If you are looking to connect with certain people – ask.
- You never know who you are talking to and what their influence in their personal network is.
- Do not try to sell at networking events – put the offer out there and make a note of who takes interest.
- Follow up with an email with anyone you connect within at least 48 hours of meeting and ask to understand their businesses better.
- Make sure you network with a purpose and be consistent as it builds trust and you build confidence in yourself.
- You get better at networking with practice.
Time spent networking is never wasted as long as you learn something from each experience, it is an important part of being a business owner and it is where you can find unexpected referrals, connections, collaborations and inspiration that you may not find on your own.
If you are not sure how to start or where to start networking, or if you are a serial networker, join us at the Over Coffee Confidence Meetups with the Cafinnate Academy. We believe in no pressure and being vulnerable and sharing the woes and woos of the epic journey that is being a solopreneur.
About the Author:
Growing up in boardrooms and in various family insurance businesses left Fiona with no doubt about the industry that would ultimately become her life. She uses this vast underwriting and business experience, skills and qualifications in her business today and dealings with clients, brokers, insurers and her team. Visit her website www.ifadmin.co.za. Follow Fiona on Facebook , Instagram and Linkedin. Fiona is also the Ambassador for the Big Bay, Cape Town monthly Over Coffee Confidence Meetup. If you want to dip your toe into the magic of networking, sign up for the next meetup!