The Dos and Don’ts of how networking effectively.
How many of you cringe or roll your eyes when you hear the word “networking”? Maybe you think networking is just too much for you. Too overwhelming, you are not interested, a waste of time. Or Maybe you think its intimating…it feels too salesy and out of your comfort zone.
I totally get it. I have to admit that at times when I first started networking I had a few of the above thoughts. However, I hope that today I can change your mind about networking. My eight-plus years of experience of networking have taught me a few things.
First, we have to change our mindsets on how we view networking. Networking is not about I scratch your back if you scratch my back. It’s not only about what you can get out of it but also about how you can contribute and be a resource to others. What I mean by this is, if you’re whole intention to network is to get people notice you and buy from you, you are doing it all wrong.
Networking is about building business relationships, friendships, caring for others, investing in others, and helping strengthen your community. Some of my best friends and my tribe have come out of networking events. These people are not always my ideal clients. Some may never higher me or use my services and that is ok because that is not the point. Over time I have built relationships with them and I have gained something so much greater than a sale. I have gained authentic relationships and mentors. I have learned from their wisdom and knowledge. They inspire me and to me, this is more valuable than a sale.
Where to find places to network
The possibilities are endless and the only way you’re going to find the ones that are a good fit for you is by trial and error. Sorry, there’s no magic wand here. Ask your friends for some recommendations. Check your local chapters. Just go visit some groups and be open-minded. And listen if it’s not a good fit, it’s nothing personal move on and try a new group. 🙂
Here are some ideas for networking groups to check out.
While some groups are free to join, some have a fee but choose the right one and it’s worth the investment!
- Local photography groups.
- Local creative groups (Tuesdays Together is one of my favorites).
- Local business groups
- Chamber of Commerce
- Conferences (yes, conferences are also about networking)
Dos and Don’ts of Networking
- Don’t make it about you.
- Don’t be salesy.
- Don’t be friend them on social media only to sell to them. Spamming them through messenger is against Facebook rules.
- Don’t add them to your email list with out their permission. It is also illegal to add people to your email list without their permission. Which is why when building your email list you need to use an email service like mail chimp or convert kit where people can opt in or opt out of your email list.
- Do make it about them. When meeting someone for the first time get out of your comfort zone and go introduce yourself, make eye contact, and give a firm handshake.
- Ask questions that are going to help you get to know them.
- Be a resource to them.
- Encourage them.
- Follow up and keep in touch.
- Invite them out for coffee or a glass of wine and offer to pay (it’s a tax write off). And don’t sell to them when you meet. Again make it about them.
- Follow them on social media and engage with them by commenting on their posts.
I hope this helps. Like I mentioned above there are so many benefits on networking. For me networking is non negotiable. I attend at least two networking events each month but truth be told I attend more. I make it a priority to attend at least one that is photography oriented and one that is business oriented.
Cheers to networking!
LYDIA GILLIS PHOTOGRAPHY is Denver based and Destination Wedding Photographer, Seniors and Personal Branding Photographer.