Monday, October 26, 2015

Tips for Networking

Hellos Doves! BrandBuilder Lesson 2: When Networking Isn't Your Strong Suit

Hello Lovebugs! As you can see, I am branching out and expanding the Miss Elisa K. brand. I have learned so much on my own through trial and error about branding. I don't want to be selfish with this information and I don't want others to make the same mistakes. I want your brands, blogs, & businesses to boom! These lessons are based on my opinions and experiences. Hopefully, my BrandBuilder Lessons will provide the information and encouragement that you need.

I've never been good at networking. Engaging strangers in conversation to learn more about them but to also sell myself is frightening and overwhelming. However, when given advice on how to get that great job or how to expand your business, the suggestion always includes networking and getting to know the right people. While I tried to avoid networking in college, it became inevitable when I moved from North Carolina to Philadelphia. I had a large network in North Carolina because I grew up there and I went to college there (networking heaven). Starting over in Philadelphia has been difficult because not really knowing the right people or any for that matter has made it more difficult to garner support for my businesses (yes, even after 3 years). So I had to quickly grasp the networking skills I learned but never used. Below are 4 things I learned when I started networking and putting myself out there. I had a total of 7 Tips. If you want the rest, please comment and share this post.

1. Go to the event anyway. I prefer to be alone. I don't like to talk or be around many people at certain times. During many of those certain times, someone is hosting a networking mixer in which I have been invited. I don't make it out all the time; I've always tried to honor every event invite and now I know my limits. However, I occasionally make myself go to these events. I push myself. I don't think I've ever regretted going to an event in the last three years that I made myself attend. My board member and mentor insisted that I attend a networking mixer over the summer. And on the day of the event, it was raining cats and dogs. I didn't really want to go at first but I pushed myself to go anyway. In the end, I met some awesome young ladies from Au'loni Magazine and they featured Girls Like Me, Inc. a few months ago. This may be bad to say, but my low morale and low expectations to actually make connections made it easy for me to go to the event and talk to people when I didn't feel like being there. I wasn't expecting to get a job, a business partner, a customer, a man (lol that's why some of y'all go though), or anything else. I was just going because it was the antithesis of my original thought process. And you can't grow and get better unless you change your thought process, do things differently, and think outside the box. Push yourself out of your mental box and go to the next networking event in your area with no expectations.

2. Be yourself. This should be a given but we are very interesting people. We tend to change due to our environment like chameleons. I know in certain settings, it is best to conduct yourself accordingly. However, conduct has nothing to do with personality. Don't change yourself to fit in or to mesh with certain people. Even if you all connect, it won't last. Honestly, how long can you go on being fake and lying to yourself. It's easier to be yourself and let the right people come into your life. Find kindred spirits, as Susan Cain would say.

3. Don't be too personal. I struggle with this and I have had a few embarrassing moments. Not being too personal is difficult for me because I am really honest. Most times, I just want feedback or confirmation. However, I have learned where to take my cares. I have also realized that while you may feel connected to someone after first meeting them or in a casual work setting, they don't know you like that yet. Don't talk about sex, religion, money, parenting, politics, race, or anything that could make people uncomfortable. You may be thinking, "Umm, Elisa... anything can make people uncomfortable." And you are exactly right my friend. So just use your best judgement and know that there is no fool proof way to save yourself from a faux pas moment. Try to recover by changing the subject once you realize it. Just don't beat yourself up about it or let it dampen your confidence. People are temperamental and effective networking is a learning process.

4. Strategically Random. Lately, I've been going out and just living my normal life without the intent and pressure of networking. I've run into people I have met once before or people who I don't know at all who want to hold conversations or just say hello. I am proud of myself because I have learned to be real and sociable while managing to turn the focus back to my business during these conversations. For instance, I recognized a lady I took a homeowners class with at the dentist with her daughter. I wasn't feeling great and my mouth was hurting. Yet, I felt like I shouldn't waste a moment to be kind and connect with someone. I just spoke to her, said hello, and told her where I remember her from. While asking her about her home buying journey after the class, I realized she had a daughter. She asked me about my home buying journey. I told her I have been focusing on building my business, Girls Like Me, Inc. and told her about the services I provide. I gave her a card and I saw her talking to her daughter about it. I don't know what will come of it but at least one more person knows about Girls Like Me, Inc. Don't let even the smallest opportunities to talk to someone pass you by. You never know what you have to offer or what someone has to offer you. So many times I let my appearance or my mood stop me from taking opportunities to connect with people. Sometimes, you should take heed of those things as they can put people off. However, most times we are being overly critical of ourselves. If you have an opportunity to meet someone new or further connect, take it.

If you would like for me to share more information about this topic, please comment and share this post on your social media networks. Hey, I'm Building a Brand Here, too! SMOOCHES XOXO

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