I will start off by saying that I am not a huge networker. I always feel awkward with forced conversations and abrupt introductions. That being said, I got pretty good at it. I took some classes, practiced with some coaches, and did a lot of it when I was a commercial lender. I participated in a couple chambers of commerce; attending leads groups, young professionals groups, and special events. I took people golfing. I joined boards of directors. I participated heavily in my local SBDC to meet entrepreneurs as well as to learn about business from the classes they offered. I also joined a fraternal organization and eventually became the secretary. Through all of this I met people, got to know them, and did business with them.
I was attending at 3-10 networking events a week and having a lot of fun doing it.
Then the pandemic hit. Some groups completely disbanded and others moved to online. I’d also left my job, so access to groups was further restricted because I was no longer a paying member.
I didn’t think I was a social person, but months of isolation proved to me that I liked people a lot and I liked meeting and talking with people.
Then I started launching my business in a market that was not where my previous base of support was. Launching a business is scary enough, not being able to count on your supporters makes it a lot scarier.
So, I’m using LinkedIn. I had previously scorned LinkedIn as being inefficient at helping to establish true relationships. Now that it’s all that’s left, I’m working it a different way. I’m trying to connect with people in my industry and people in my area. Just to get in front of those people a little bit each week and build my brand again. When people ask why I am connecting with them, I just tell them the truth: I find it hard to network with people in my area due to the pandemic. LinkedIn says you’re in my backyard, so I reached out to connect.
I haven’t gotten any negative feedback yet. So I will keep trying it. When we open the doors to our business in two months, we’ll see if the effort has been worth it.
#Networking #LinkedIn #MeetingPeople #Sales #Pandemic