I never was a very good in person networker.
I’m a little shy and a bit of an introvert.
When someone says “networking” – I immediately think of very large events where people are trying too hard. Inevitably, someone gloms on to me with an “opportunity”. I make a quick exit and trudge back to my car with my small stack of business cards. The cards stay in the bottom of my bag until the next event.
Until I started online, I thought that networking was a HUGE waste of time. I think it’s because I had such a miserable time at the networking events that I didn’t go consistently. So, I was “bait” for opportunists instead of making friends and creating partnerships.
Online networking works better for me. Over the past 15 years I’ve been online, I’ve made friends with hundreds of really interesting people all over the world. And, even more, I estimate I’ve made almost $100K from my networking efforts (especially using LinkedIn). Even still… consistency is critical to successful online networking.. but it can be challenging.
Why it’s hard to be consistent networking online
Lack of time
As a business owner you wear so many hats. It’s hard to keep up with your networking when you are a solopreneur and need to give priority to putting out fires rather than slowly buidling relationships. The key to getting past this is understanding that consistent baby steps can over a huge amount of distance over time. You can create and run a very successful sales pipeline in just 15 minutes a day. It just takes making a commitment and doing just a little bit each day. I like spending 15 minutes at the start of my day doing networking outreaches. Your networking will be more efficient if you use the Daily 100 or another tracking method to get clear on who you are targeting.
Why would anyone want to talk to me?
If you are shy in real life – it can seem hard to reach out to strangers and possibly face rejection. I think that shyness can be a huge factor in not being consistent with networking. The nice thing about online networking is that you have access to many more people than those in your town. This makes it easier to find people who generally who generally want to connect and partner with you. The key is being intentional about who you are connecting with.
Don’t give up too soon
One of the biggest mistakes I see new online business owners make is simply giving up to soon. It can take 12- 14 touchpoints before you even begin to soak into your prospect’s bandwidth. Many of my clients before they started working with me gave up after one or two emails. The clients who have “miracles” happen keep in touch with prospects over months and years. You don’t need to send a message every day – reaching out every weeks can work wonders. You don’t know when people need you – so staying in touch over time gets you into the right place at the right time.
Waiting until everything is perfect
The best time to start networking is last year – the next best time is now. Even if your website isn’t perfect and everything isn’t perfectly set up – there is value in having conversations with prospects and potential partners. Those conversations can provide important information that will help create a website that attracts traffic and converts well.
Networking doesn’t have to be terrible. By being clear on your audience and consistently taking small steps – your network and your business will grow.