For some women making connections comes easily – whether it’s chatting with other moms at a PTO meeting, making friends through your church or networking with other biz chicks at a Chamber of Commerce event – friendships and connections come easily for these ladies. For others, the thought of attending a business speed dating event or going to a mommy meet up is as dreaded as an annual Pap smear.
Chances are you can identify with one of these women. You might be reading this thinking, I love attending networking events and business mixers, in fact, I actually like my OB/GYN…
Or maybe you’re thinking, Omg that’s me! I get anxiety just clicking “interested” in an event on Facebook, let alone going to a meeting or a party where I’ll be surrounded by strangers…
Regardless of your comfort levels when it comes to putting yourself out there, when you own a business making smart connections is key to growing your brand and establishing your credibility. It’s also great to have business friends, the same way you have your “mom friends” – because they get it. They know what you’re going through and can empathize during hard times and encourage you when you need it most.
I’ve been lucky to make some awesome connections since I started my web design business, and some double as mom friends which is a bonus. I was voted “most talkative” in my high school year book and it turns out those talking skills have been really helpful in the business world. If you’re new to the area, just starting a business or simply need a little help getting out of your comfort zone, here are some simple tips for making connections in your day to day life.
1. Sign Up
If there’s a women’s event, business mixer, or workshop that interests you, sign up. If you don’t want to go by yourself, ask someone to go with you! You won’t make new connections if you don’t put yourself out there, so the first step is to sign up for something that will get you in a new place with new people. Local to Lancaster? There are some amazing resources for female business owners here! INSPIRE has business workshops for women happening regularly and most cost less than $50. Some other great women’s groups include ASSETS or Women Connect Lancaster. Check them out and find an event that speaks to you, then sign yourself up! You can also find local groups on Facebook – moms groups, business connect groups, and fitness groups. Do a quick Facebook search and you’ll be surprised by the number of options.
2. Show Up
No backing out. If you’ve signed up the next step is to show up. Not sure if you’ll know anyone else? Stalk the Facebook guest list and connect with some of the other attendees on Instagram. This will make them seem more familiar and likewise, they might recognize you. Need something to chat about? Do your social research so you can be prepared. Take note of who people are connected to online and what they’ve been sharing about recently. Make an effort to seek those people out at the event and start a conversation. You can always start with, “I saw we have some mutual connections.”
Chances are, when you ask questions and show interest, other women will do the same. At the end of the day, we’re all attending workshops and events for similar reasons – to learn, to connect, to grow. When you show up, be yourself. Bring some business cards. And at the end of the day, have fun! I am a firm believer in the law of attraction which says we are drawn to similar energies, so be intentional in your interactions.
3. Follow Up
You came, you saw, you conquered (your fears). Now this is the important part. If you want to make genuine connections, follow up. If you really enjoyed talking to someone and you want to chat further about business, mom life, or whatever it is you bonded over, send them a message and ask if they’d like to grab coffee sometime soon, cowork for a day, or simply meet up. I recommend suggesting some days/times right away so you can get a meet up on your calendar. We all have that old friend we bump into and say things like, “We need to catch up soon!” But you know as soon as you turn the corner you’ll never take the time to reach out to them… Don’t let your new connections become like these old friends. Be intentional about your invitation to grab coffee or collaborate, and once again – show up. You might just make a new best friend or find your businesses can truly benefit each other.
Making new connections can be daunting. In fact, I still get nervous when I attend workshops and events without a friend and I’m not sure I’ll know anybody else. But at the end of the day, I’ve met so many wonderful women who’ve become partners, podcast guests, collaborators, mentors, and friends… Putting myself out there hasn’t always been easy but it’s been worth it! If you need help getting connected, contact the INSPIRE team today.