Nurtured Networking: The Slow & Steady Process of Networking as Entrepreneurs
Ah, networking, that word that business owners really don’t like hearing. I feel you. It can be hard and tedious, especially if you’re an introvert, like me. But if there’s one thing that I’ve had reinforced this week, it’s that networking is crucial, even if you may not see results for a time.
Why You Need to be Networking as an Entrepreneur
... Even if you feel like nothing is happening.
Over the past year, I’ve been methodically working through a number of Nashville networking events, and I’ve had the incredible chance to volunteer with a few (un)conferences, too. In addition to the in person networking, I’ve been steadily upping my Twitter game.
And until this week, it sometimes felt like it was nothing more than knowing at least one person at a networking event. (I mean, that’s still totally worth it.) Then I had three things happen that helped reinforce the value of networking to me.
- I was asked to share my experiences of being a young entrepreneur on a great site.
- I was asked to co-host a Twitter chat. (Crazy but such a great experience!)
- I was offered some more work.
(And by no means is this me bragging on my incredible networking skills. This is showing the value of putting the effort into something when it feel like it's going nowhere.)
When It Feels Like There’s No ROI from Networking
I’m a big believer in helping others, and not looking for something in return. Help out as many people as you can, and don’t view it as them owing you one.
But when doing so, it can be easy to get discouraged about networking. How many events do you need to go to before you get a lead, or a client, or an employee? Be patient, my friends, and those returns will come.
When You Do See ROI, Remember This
Congrats! You've seen some ROI on your networking efforts! *High five*
But. When you start to see a return on that time spent and beers had, don’t get cocky. If anything, it’s time to step up the pace. As business owners, there’s never enough time for everything, but networking needs to be at the top of your priority list.
I once heard a successful business owner say, loosely paraphrased, “You can always tell who the out of work, stressed out freelancer is. They’re the one’s frantically throwing their business card around, instead of connecting with the people themselves.”
And the methodic networker? They’re the ones building real relationships, and keeping them up, so that when they need help or are looking for a client, they have a nurtured network willing to help.
How do you view networking?
What has your favorite ROI from networking been?