How Networking is Good for the Soul and Your Business!

Are you actively networking? Is it a business activity you enjoy, or do you do it because you feel you have to?
I network both online and offline and surprisingly, I’m enjoying both methods. I approach them both with curiosity and wanting to get to know fellow women entrepreneurs. I started networking again a few months ago after taking a break for a couple of years.

As an entrepreneur who hosts local Instagram workshops, networking locally is a must. And as an entrepreneur who offers Instagram strategy coaching, training and social media management to an online audience, networking online is also a must. Of course, my intention with online is to move that relationship to offline – into a phone call or email or zoom call.

In-Person Networking

Let’s start with in-person networking. When I started networking again, I went to a couple of events with a networking buddy of a similar age where most of the attendees were way younger. sigh! I soon realized how much I missed my own networking group - after all, I still run into women who tell me they miss EWC (my original networking group name) and when was I going to start again.

So, I’m doing it again - the 2019 version – is slightly different, but mostly the same format. The events will still include a presenter but this time the topics are focused on marketing, the socials and lead generation.

Online Networking

My online networking consists mostly of networking on two socials: Instagram and Facebook. They have different networking styles, so I’ll talk about them individually.

Facebook Groups Networking

There are some very wonderful and interactive Facebook groups for women entrepreneurs. Look for groups that are a mixture of conversations and days where you are encouraged to promote your business.

Simply join in some conversations and look for opportunities to share your knowledge and encouragement – kind of like having that in person conversation. Groups are also a great way to do some market research for your business. Want to know whether people will pay for a service you’re testing out? Just ask! One of my friends has had several offline discovery calls with potentials clients that wouldn’t have happened if she wasn’t being ‘social’ and ‘helpful’ in the groups.

I’m always impressed by how generous some women are with the information and insight they share. I belong to a few really interactive groups – if you’re interested, just contact me and I’ll share them. Of course, there’s also another option – if you don’t find a group that is what you’re looking for, it’s like Meetup – create your own and build it with your own vision.

Instagram Networking

Instagram doesn’t have groups, so finding your audience happens mostly via hashtags. Conversations happen when you start following someone and then comment on their post(s). Sending someone a DM (direct message) is also a great way to initiate a private conversation. I set myself a daily task to reach out and DM 3-5 people who are following me. Stories are another great option to initiate conversations – you can either send a DM or send a ‘reaction’. Because of Stories and Highlights, I find networking on Instagram more informal and I tend to get a bigger picture of the person themselves than on Facebook.

Network with Intention

Consider having a purpose. a plan and a time limit and spend your allotted networking time wisely. I personally limit the number of goat videos and travel profiles I visit (my weakness) 😊, but sometimes, I just want to be entertained and have a laugh. But seriously, networking online and offline can introduce you to strategic partners, collaborators and potential resources you might need in your business – like bookkeepers, videographers, coaches, etc.

Moving Networking Online to Offline

This happens all the time – either someone reaches out to ask you a question about your product or service, books a discovery call or just reaches out to tell you they appreciate what you’re doing. Here is an example of how it worked for me. I responded to a question in a Facebook group and then the conversation moved to LinkedIn and now it’s transitioned into having face-to-face coffee. My contact (Eloise) currently lives in France but has family here in the GTA and will be visiting in August. She reached out and we are setting a time to meet in person for coffee.

Networking TIP: Instagram is a platform that rewards conversations. If you’re DM’g people on Instagram and it’s going well – don’t let the conversation drop – keep track of those people and then once a week or so, take a look at their profile again and what they’re posting and check in with them – keep the conversation going. Use a CRM or spreadsheet – whatever is easiest for you.

The Art of Moving Your Networking Online to Offline
Networking to attract an engaged community is an art - whether you are online or offline. Growing an engaged community online that will follow you offline to continue that relationship and eventually purchase from you takes time, consistency and a plan for how to do it. I have an upcoming workshop that shows you exactly how to do this with ease and without that icky feeling.

How is networking good for the soul?

Find a networking group(s) (online and offline) where you feel welcomed as a member of a tribe and is not just about business.

Looking for more networking tips and ideas? Connect with me.



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