*** “Group Wisdom” is a new series where I reach out to members of the Moxie community for advice on best business practices. Members are chosen at random from our Moxie membership list — you might be hearing from me soon! ***
We’re fresh off Moxie’s first-ever, virtual How She Did It Summit — four days of awe-inspiring women entrepreneurs sharing their stories of triumph, failure, and lessons often learned the hard way. (Did you tune in? Tell us what you thought in the comments below!)
When it comes to networking tips, there were two major takeaways I got from some of the best in the biz:
- You don’t have to be an extrovert (Tish Times, who literally wrote a book on networking, considers herself an introvert!)
- The pay-off isn’t immediately obvious. Often in networking, you’re making connections and planting the seed for future collaboration — sometimes years down the road!
So many of our speakers had funny stories about deals and friendships forged through their (often initially reluctant) attempts at networking, which made me realize that women in our Moxie community must have similar stories to tell! So I reached out to a few and asked: Can you tell me about a connection you’ve made at a networking event, or through networking efforts, that has really blossomed (professionally, personally, or both)?
Here’s what they said:
“I’m definitely one of those women who shied away from networking because it did seem difficult and not terribly authentic. But what I’ve found with Moxie is that it really is about just being yourself and allowing others to know who you are. Showing up with enthusiasm and conviction can be very attractive to the women we are meant to serve.
It was actually at one of Moxie’s online events that I was placed in a breakout group where we got to know each other in a relaxed setting, and one of the other women was intrigued enough to arrange a meeting. She became a client – and friend – and I have used her services as well.
Another woman I met at the Moxie Mixer reached out for some social connection and so far we’ve enjoyed a lovely hike and trading stories. I’m looking forward to getting to know her even better.
And quite recently a connection I made years ago has now blossomed into some business help and a new mentor for me! So, yes, there can be surprising returns when you put yourself in an environment where others can get to know, like, and trust you.”
– Daria Howell, LMT, CTNC
“Networking can be a scary proposition – especially if you are not a natural extrovert and are thinking about walking into a room of strangers. If that’s the case for you – as it was for me – I suggest starting close to home, in your comfort zone with friends and colleagues who can introduce you to their friends and colleagues. Through this unfolding of interlacing contacts, new clients, friends, advisers and referrals are found.
For example, several years ago, while working for a corporation, I asked a friend to recommend a trainer for an in-house program I was developing. Over the years, that trainer became a dear friend, and mentor and advocate for my work when I started my business. She regularly refers me to others who are now my clients. When you plant a seed, there’s no telling when you will reap the harvest. To paraphrase Dory (from Finding Nemo fame): Just keep sowing!”
– Linda Powell, Founder & CEO, Integrated Success HR Consulting & Coaching
“The world of networking can bring up many stories that we tell ourselves when we’re venturing out of our comfort zone. ‘How do I talk about what I do?’ ‘Being seen is not my thing.’ And then there’s one of the biggest barriers to connection – comparison. ‘She has it so together and I don’t.’
I’ve experienced all of these at one time or another. But what helped me through it was approaching these events with a Mission of Curiosity. A desire to find people who I wanted to add to my wisdom circle as friends first. Those are the relationships that last. And those are the ones that authentically turn into clients, collaborators or incredible referral partners.
I’m blessed to call amazing women like Dill Ward, Lisa Moon Brumm, and Theresa Pridemore my long-time friends. We’ve inspired each other to create and celebrate. And I know that we all have each other’s backs. Because if you look at the word ‘networking,’ it’s ultimately about the support net that catches us when we fall, and bounces us back to even greater heights.”
“For me, networking is truly about relationship-building. Even though I am relatively introverted, I love connecting with people, uplifting their work, and strengthening our web of support. When I think about it as an opportunity to establish community, I find networking to be energizing rather than draining.
I am not at all shy about reaching out to folks who I find inspiring and want to get to know. Years ago, I sent an email to an artist and teacher who I had greatly admired from afar. I introduced myself and asked that she keep me in mind if she ever needed help with her workshops or content creation. We met, and she ended up offering me a job! I worked alongside her for several years.”
– Anya Hankin, Copywriter, Content Catalyst, Facilitation Trainer
Networking is difficult, but it can yield surprising returns — sometimes even years down the road.
What great moments have YOU had in networking? Please let us know in the comments!