With 2014 successfully behind me, I can’t help but think what a fantastic year it was for myself in terms of making connections. When I created my 2014 resolutions list, one of my main goals was to seek out and develop new relationships. Understanding all to well the importance of networking to create strategic connections, my decision to network became even more important when I decided to launch Island Muse.
What did I hope to gain?
- Confidence boost
- Opportunities to promote my brand
- Connect with like-minded people
- Master my “story”
I must admit the thought of entering a crowded room filled with strangers used to give me sweaty palms. However, after studying the progression of many people I admired it became apparent that networking can benefit ones life in an enormous way.
If you’re just starting out and feel spooked by networking, here are some tips that have helped me on my journey towards becoming a fearless networker:
Utilize the Magic of Social Media
Social media platforms; Instagram, Twitter, Facebook are all great resources for connecting with people in your industry. Most of the women I’ve featured on Island Muse (including myself) would agree that Instagram has done wonders to get their brand/personalities out to the world. Twitter is another platform that allows you to share industry-related content and engage with people in your social network. Through social media, you’ll connect with more people in your industry that you wouldn’t have been able to in person.
Master Your Story
Networking has helped provide me with a clear definition of who I am and what it is I have to offer. Before attending any networking event, it’s important to master your story: who are you, what do you have to offer and most importantly what do you hope to gain from this networking session? Of course, you undoubtedly want to impress those you meet, however remember to keep it natural.
Business cards are a worthwhile investment. When I started shopping around for business cards, I didn’t realize how much time and money it takes to design a fly business card that truly represents myself and my brand. With that in mind, I believe it’s quite ok to be selective and strategic when distributing business cards, don’t feel pressured to drop your business card in the hands of everyone you meet. Instead, focus on forging one or two strong bonds with people you would truly like to keep in touch with. From my experience, these are the relationships which will prove to be quite valuable in the future.
In the past, whenever I’ve attended networking events with a friend, we’ve unknowingly used each other as a “crutch”, diminishing our chances of connecting with new people. It is for that reason that I attend many networking events solo. Remember, the purpose of a networking event is to meet new people and increase your connections. There is no reason to be fearful of approaching others. Be confident, introduce yourself, and most importantly contribute to the conversation.
Events worth checking out in 2015:
Coffee & Cheesecake’s Women on The Rise Event: Aimed at promoting “positive self-esteem and networking amongst women”, founder Paula Williams’ Coffee & Cheesecake events are perfect for entrepreneurial women who wish to network with fellow female entrepreneurs eager to support your cause.
Secrets of a Side Hustler’s #SideHustleChat: Moderated by its founder Chivon John, #SideHustleChat is a weekly online forum that provides participants with a space to connect and learn from experts who are successfully pursuing their “5-9’s”. I had the pleasure of attending SSH’s launch event back in September and had an amazing time connecting with creative professionals who’ve successfully managed to create their own opportunities.
For 2015, I challenge you to live boldly, be brave and most importantly get connected. If it’s one thing 2014 has shown me, is how fast things can progress when we stop trying to go at it alone. Can’t wait to connect with you in 2015.
Happy New Year! xoxo