When I started my first business in 2005, I wasn’t sure the best way to generate “quality” leads. Of course like most businesses I’d done marketing, advertising and direct mail. , I’d also heard about networking and been encouraged to give it a try. Honestly, I had some real misnomers about finding the right networking group. I thought I thought I should only focus on finding a group, that could buy from me. Wasn’t that what I was going out there for?
As I called to find the right group for me, I recall a conversation I had with the leader of a local women’s business networking group she said, “the people you meet here may not be the ones who buy from you, but having exposure to their rolodex, will be priceless”. Well, it sounded good to me, so I dove right in. I found that attending the structured networking events, where there were opportunities to tell a group about the services my company offered, were more advantageous to me, than the other type held often at bars. I learned how to give a 30 second elevator speech, how to ask for referrals to services or products I needed, not for business for my company, and more importantly I learned how to listen intently to the others speaking. I discovered by focusing on them, not myself, I was able to learn something new and have a genuine reason to connect with many of them after the event. For instance, if they were offering marketing services or home staging, this was something I wanted to learn more about as I may be able to refer them business.
I’ve met some amazing people at networking groups. I’ve also met some that……..let’s just say, needed to polish their presentation and work on connecting, not just selling. Funny thing is I don’t recall those people, their names or services as much as I do a few that really stood out in my mind and made effort to learn more about me, and I did likewise. In learning first about the other person, I found that I was able to make referrals that helped them, and low and behold, it came back to me, ten fold.
Today, I’m so honored that two of the women I met at a local women’s networking group have become two of my closest friends. They’ve also both helped me in my business and become outstanding friends as well as true inspirational role models.
Amy, a writer, has taught me so much about the spirituality, energy and how to believe that whatever I want, I can create. She’s encouraged me have faith in myself, and my abilities. She’s also taught me that we should stop and smell the roses. Take time to celebrate even the littlest accomplishments, as often as possible. We’ve enjoyed dinner together often, trips to the beach and strategizing with one another to help our respective businesses.
Rhonda, a marketing expert, has introduced me to my exact target audience and helped me get my speaking business off the ground. She totally understood the services that company provided and was able to identify a match with a client of hers she was writing for. That introduction has turned into not only new business, but new friends that have led to even further opportunities. We even went to New Orleans together one summer where she was able to meet some of the client’s she’d worked with for a long time, but only communicated via phone and email. She saw me speak and encouraged me to keep it up. We also made some time together to enjoy the wonderful sites, food and fun in New Orleans.
These two connections have turned into powerful friendships thanks to both of us being soulful networkers. There are many others I have forged relationships with from my networking, but nothing like what I have with these two women. They have both forever changed my life and I truly believe that an angel sent them to me, just when I needed them.
If you are networking to grow your business, remember, it’s not what you are selling that’s as important as the relationships you can build that will turn into more business than you can ever imagine. I’m also sure that along the way, like me, you’ll make a few new friends that will be more valuable than the business you generate as well. Remember, focus on how you can help the other person first, what you’ll get from that will be priceless.
Wishing you many soulful networking opportunities and lots of fun along the way.
All the best ~
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