• Lara Austin

Oh, Networking...

Recently, I attended the 4th Annual Northern Colorado Women's Small Business Conference and it was the slap in the face reminder I needed to see how easy and simple networking is. I typically don’t forget this, but when I learned about this conference - just days before - I didn’t think I would have the funds to swing the ticket. 

First, huge mindset mistake. And luckily, due to peer pressure, one of my new local OBM colleagues was the one who told me about it and encouraged me to go. 

Sometimes, many times, it takes a financial investment to network. It costs money to get there. It costs money because I’m not working on client work. It costs money to eat/drink and like I already mentioned - the tickets usually aren’t cheap.

I did swallow the cost and made it work, only to remember THIS is where my marketing dollars, time, investment needs to be spent. 

People ask all the time, where do you find clients? Which chat group or mastermind? Which forum? Marketing through social media? What?? You know where all my clients are from? My network. Referrals from clients or people who know me. Even the client that found me on LinkedIn, still found me through our LinkedIn network.

Then, my OBM colleague had something come up and she could no longer attend this event. I had the audacity to even consider pulling out, to see if I could get a refund. Or worse, take the loss and spend the time working, making money. But I persevered - I was now determined to attend the conference to learn something new.

I am sitting over here laughing out loud - yes, lol - me, right now, at my own mindset - in hindsight - but this is stuff I know and have learned after working for 20+ years. 

Connecting with people - face to face - in person - for a similar cause, like a conference - is POWERFUL. It makes you real, human, approachable. You’re not there selling, you’re there to be with other attendees, to learn and to NETWORK. 

The night before the conference, I’m turning the lights off, saying goodnight to my partner, and my partner goes - shoot, I have a 7am meeting tomorrow. Sigh, low and behold I now have kid drop off duty. I roll with it, but I am now running behind to the conference, still have to deal with I25 traffic, all this to say, it was a rough morning, and the path was not “easy” per se to get there.

I finally arrive at the conference, later than initially planned, but still on track. I walk into a room with 300(?) tables and most of them with ladies seated at them connecting with others around them. Feeling a little anxious, I start to make my way through the room, winding toward the front - I’m Lara A., so by default I’m used to sitting in the front and I like to be able to see.

I end up in the very front row, with a table that had one person. I now have a great seat, about 15 minutes before the opening speaker, so I get to connecting with my table mate. And guess what? She is my ideal client. A small business, online business owner, who is killing it! She is so busy she doesn’t have any time to work on her business or doing any of the creative processes that she once used to love.

My ideal client. The very first person I spoke to and introduced myself to. I put myself out there. I attended the dang conference, and here I was within minutes of arriving slapping myself for even thinking for a moment of not coming to this event.

A few hours later… I’m seated in one of the breakout sessions waiting for the speaker to begin, when a lady sits down next to me. We chat for a few minutes, and guess what? You might believe this. Another ideal client. I am, like, falling off my chair in disbelief. 

In person, networking is like speed dating / job interviewing. Do they smell good? Do they look good? Do they sound good? Do they feel good (thinking energetically)? Do they annoy you? Do they make you laugh? Are you comfortable in their presence? Are they interesting?

These are things you can pick up on in a networking situation. Do we mesh together? Do I like you? Do you like me? 

I’m not saying that just because you networked, connected and met in person you’ll forever be compatible, but I am saying if you leave out that component, it takes longer to get to the know/like/trust factor that is critical in our work.

Morale of the story? Network. Invest time and money into making this happen. Go to conferences, Meetups, community business functions - get out there and start talking to people. Tell them what you have to offer. 

If you’d like more tips on where to begin with networking, contact me for a free 30-minute consultation.

Thanks for reading! ♥️ Lara