Most solopreneurs I talk with have the same opinion of ‘networking’ as they do of ‘sales’. There’s just something uncomfortable, even somewhat slimy, about both.

We’ve all been to networking events where everyone is anxious to tell you what they do and exchange business cards. Or the ‘leads’ groups that if you don’t supply your fair share of leads, you’re kicked off the island.

Rightly or wrongly, we often think of networking as transactional and selfish.  If you weren’t a salesperson before you became self-employed, you’re probably uncomfortable with this whole ‘self-promotion’ part of business.

But we also know we need to go out there and get clients. So how do we become more comfortable with this process? Change the way we approach it.

Instead of thinking about Networking, think about Connecting. Connecting is relationship-oriented, not transaction-oriented.

Focus on how you can provide value to others with nothing expected in return. Listen more and talk less. Give someone information that they need. Connect two people who might benefit from knowing each other. Help others be successful.

Thinking about giving instead of getting takes the pressure off and makes meeting people much more enjoyable. It also happens to be the best way to grow your business – by building relationships. This is a long-term approach not a quick tactic.

Are you uncomfortable with ‘networking’? How do you approach it?

 

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