Get out there and meet people!
Everyone knows the common saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. How many of you are taking advantage of the latter part?
Getting out and getting to know people in our community and those around us can be difficult for some, and come quite naturally for others. We all know someone who is best friends with their dry cleaner, their hair stylist, even the server at the restaurant they frequent. It is easy for them to strike up a conversation with just about anyone. They ask questions and are truly interested in what the other person has to say. They make them feel like the most important person at that moment. By the end of the meal, the server is often sitting at the table with them and they are enjoying a dessert on the house
For the rest of us, networking doesn’t come so easily. On a flight home, we put in earphones to avoid having to talk to the person next to us. We are polite to the service people we work with, but we don’t wonder or inquire about their lives. And, if we do, it is just to be courteous and the person answers back politely, “I am good”, end of conversation. If we are brave enough to attend a networking event, we find ourselves finding a friend and sticking to their side the entire time, or hiding out by the refreshments. We are afraid to just break in and start talking with a group or a stranger.
It’s time to get past those fears and start striking up conversations with everyone around us. We all know that everyone needs a website, so let’s start asking. You never know what the person you run into might need or their brother, friend, hair stylist, or dry cleaner.
It is important to really make a connection with who you are talking to. Ask about what they have going on, what they do, what in life worries them. Don’t only ask, but listen to their answer and try to relate to what might be happening in their life. People want to work with those they are comfortable with, those they can trust.
Before you know it, they will be asking about you and what you do for a living. Be ready for “You should take a look at my website, I think it needs some work” or “My web guy skipped town and I am stuck with a half finished project”. Those are the kind of conversations that turn into opportunities.
So concentrate on trying to break the ice with at least 10 new people this month. Try jotting down a few notes afterward to help you remember what you talked about. Some great places to network in our area are:
Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce
Whatcom Young Professionals
Whatcom Women in Business
Women’s Professional Network
Get out there and make some connections!