Going to a networking event can be intimidating; particularly for mom entrepreneurs that don’t get out too often. This is the reason why I challenge my mom entrepreneur clients to pick a month that she will claim as Networking Month. She then must go to no less than 3 events in her community.
This is a challenge for many mom entrepreneurs because of the many demands of their children. But in order to grow your business you must get before people-real people, not those floating around inside your computer.
I decided that this summer I would get out and network in my city. Last year I was dealing with my mother’s breast cancer diagnosis. The year before that I had an infant and a mastectomy. So this summer I was MORE than happy to slow down the children’s schedules and focus on getting out. What fun! Meeting people is one of my favorite things to do and now my network of friends in my town has multiplied.
Notice, I did not say that my business has multiplied. Networking is about connecting with others; it’s not about getting business. It’s about helping others; it’s not about getting business. Ironically when you connect with others and help them you will receive also.
Here are some things to do to help your networking adventure be successful:
- Try on what you plan to wear. There’s nothing worse than putting on an outfit 1 hour before the networking event to discover that a button is missing, the children’s fingerprints are on it or that you’ve gained “a little” and now the outfit doesn’t fit. Many mommies have learned to ignore the small stain or ill-fitting shirt because we lack the time to deal with it. We will excuse ourselves and go into public considering that as a minor infraction. “It’s not puke.” or “It use to fit tighter than this.” or “I’ll just keep the baby on this side to hide it.” This is not the time to excuse yourself. Pull out your entire outfit: shoes, accessories, stockings and purse. Look it over carefully and try it on. Replace, mend, clean.
- Determine how many people you will introduce yourself to. Once there it will be very easy to stick to the friendly person that seems to like you. In another post I’ll teach you what to say to break away from those who hog your time and how to stop doing that to others.
- Have plenty of cards easily accessible. That may mean you buy a jacket with a pocket or ditch the purse and just carry a card holder.
- Pull aside to take notes on the back of others cards. No matter how engaging the conversation or how attractive the person do not trust your mind to remember the details…maybe…that’s just my problem.
- Make a point to introduce someone that you just met to someone else there. Especially those who seem to be uncomfortable there or those who walked in late.
- Follow up immediately My advice to mom-entrepreneur is a little different from what I would give to other entrepreneurs. Because your time is limited pick 3 people that you will follow-up with. Decide who you really liked, who really liked you and who you can help and once you get home send out a “nice to meet” email. Let them know that you will call within 2 days to schedule lunch. Send” a nice to meet you” email to the other people that you met as well. This should be done IMMEDIATELY; within hours and no later than 48 hours. Your name will still be on their minds, therefore your email will be warmly received. Make the phone call 2 days later even if they do not respond to your email.
- Follow up immediately See above.
- Follow up immediately See above
- Follow up immediately I can not stress the importance of follow-up enough. You are not networking if you do not follow up. Networking is about making connections and building relationships. You are not networking if you do not follow up.
What is your biggest challenge when it comes to networking?
- 10 Helpful Tactics Every Entrepreneur Should Adopt For a Successful Business Networking (invoicera.com)
- Kristi Blicharski: Five Secrets for Successful Business Networking (huffingtonpost.com)