I used to think I was good at Yoga. Not instructor-quality good. But, I thought I had mastered the basics.
As it turned out, that line of thinking was a stretch – quite literally. I took a Yoga class at my gym as my home exercise videos had become boring and seemingly too easy.
Apparently things seem to be easy when you’re doing them incorrectly … over and over. Wrong moves become habit as I found out in the group class. Every chance the instructor had she pulled and stretched my limbs, demonstrating how my posture and poses were supposed to look. My confidence was shot. I have not returned to the Yoga group setting since.
Networking evokes a similar stretching quality for me. I have met and continue to meet lots of people. Many of them ask me where I network, which business groups I belong to and if I have joined the local chamber of commerce.
Many of my contacts seem surprised when I share that I have not done any of these things. I know small business owners, representatives from nonprofit organizations, municipal and school district officials and more key people through my past life as a reporter.
But, that’s not the reason I choose to treat networking like yoga – that is, opting for a more one-on-one approach.
For me, anyway, trying to meet and have meaningful conversations with large groups of people isn’t really practical. When introduced to many people at once I forget their names, businesses or why a connection thought our meeting would be beneficial.
And, if I’m being completely honest, I do much better talking to fewer people at a time. I’m less nervous about knowing what to say and more focused on who they are, their business needs and how I can help with public relations and marketing efforts.
I think of it as the Yoga mistakes in the comfort of my own home versus being stretched and pulled in front of an entire class.
I realize that memberships in groups or chambers are integral to building a client and customer base, particularly for startups. However, I find much more success with referrals (thanks to all of my clients who help grow my business) and strengthening my existing connections.
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