I know you want to stop worrying about networking for your business, because it used to worry the heck out of me.
Although I’ve now settled on my passion as a WordPress and Digital Marketing Consultant, I’ve been a childminder, run my own craft business, freelanced as a graphic designer and made small business stationery. Those small businesses each had their own ups and downs, but there was one thing they all involved that I absolutely despised; small business networking.
I’m talking about the in-person, in-real-life, drive-somewhere-random-and-introduce-yourself-to-a-room-full-of-strangers type of small business networking that, as a confirmed introvert, makes me feel physically ill.
I know that a lot of self-employed women feel the same way and wish they could stop worrying about networking, but many feel a big dose of FOMO, because they find it so hard to go.
If you’ve felt that way, then rejoice! I’m here to let you off the hook and help you stop worrying about networking.
Here are 5 reasons that you should stop worrying about networking:
1. The Anxiety Cripples Your Productivity
You know the feeling. Every time you think about walking into that room, you get a knot in your stomach and start to feel a bit sick. You have a million things to do, but you’re so preoccupied, you can’t seem to get anything done, and as the big day draws ever closer, the anxiety increases. What seemed like a good idea at the time is gradually turning into a nightmare, one which might literally stop you sleeping.
The growing anxiety and lack of sleep completely knocks out your productivity, so you fall behind on your work. You can’t concentrate and end up even more anxious, as you can’t bring yourself to email that client who’s work you were supposed to finish yesterday.
When you first saw the networking event advertised, you had a moment of excitement; “Maybe I’ll meet my business bestie?! I’m sure I’ll get loads of orders after I’ve shown everyone my stuff!”. But now, you’re suffering from introvert’s remorse and trying to think of every excuse in the book.
You’re even hoping the kids are just a teeny tiny bit poorly, so you have to stay home…
2. The Emotional Burnout Wrecks Your Week
You made it. You got to the event, you walked in that room and, quite honestly, it wasn’t as bad as you’d have expected. You met some lovely people and made some connections. As you leave, you start to feel quite proud of yourself for going. “Maybe I should do this more regularly? Maybe I should start my own group? I could be the queen of networking!”, you think, feeling on top of the world. But then…
BAM. You get home, sit down with a hot drink before you have to go pick up the kids and it begins… Your brain, as helpful as ever, starts to reply all of your conversations. “Oh crap did I get her name wrong…?! How could I have said that to her, she probably thinks I’m a complete moron… Why didn’t I ask her how her father was doing, I know he’s been ill… Did I say good bye to everyone; they’ll think I’m so ignorant!”.
And so it goes on. For hours. Then days. You just can’t stop worrying about networking. By the time you’ve gone over everything a thousand times, you’re emotionally exhausted and, again, can’t concentrate on a thing you should be doing.
3. You Don’t Actually Get Anything Out of It
Ok the coffee was nice, and there was that one lady who might have been interested in your latest offering (unless maybe you got her name wrong…), but that wave of excitement that you felt when you booked your tickets has turned into disappointment as, yet again, you don’t have a single new like, let alone an order.
I mean, it’s not like that’s the ONLY reason you ended up going to the event (who are you kidding…), but you expected that at least one person might want to sign up to your newsletter.
The problem is, you’re so nervous, you can’t be your ‘best self’, can’t talk about your business with enthusiasm and sometimes can’t even string a coherent sentence together.
4. These Are Not Your People
Don’t get me wrong, you LOVE people. Actually, scratch that, you LOVE person.
As a confirmed introvert, one on one conversations, getting deep and meaningful and putting the world to rights is your idea of a good time; but group networking isn’t the place for that kind of interaction, and you struggle with the limited conversations that small business networking allows for.
Meeting people you trust on their own for a coffee is much more your style.
5. You’re Wasting Your Time
After all this, you begin to ask yourself, is this really worth my time? And I have to say, I don’t think it is.
While you’re spending days being anxious about the event, then analysing the event, then feeling like you’re missing out by not going to another event, you could be growing your business.
With the myriad of opportunities that the internet affords us, local small business networking isn’t necessary to grow your business – and I’m living proof of that. I’ve only been to a handful networking events in the last 12 months and this has been my most successful year to date.
My tips on how to grow your business so you can stop worrying about networking:
Find like-minded people online in Facebook groups and other social media platforms. You can dip in and out on your own terms, and still grow your business. Just remember to try not to worry about what other people think! Most people are too worried about their own lives to judge you. I’ve met some fantastic people online who I’ve never met in person, but whom I consider really good friends. And when you feel ready, you can meet up in real life!
Don’t allow yourself to become isolated. Quitting business networking doesn’t mean quitting normal every day interaction. You can even use these interactions to talk about your business when it’s appropriate. You may find it easier in these natural interactions.
Have a look for some online networking groups that provide the same sort of support you’d get in local networking groups.
Facebook has thousands of free groups that cover everything from crochet to kungfu. You can also sign up to premium groups that offer training and extra resources for a monthly fee, such as my (soon to be launched!) Be Your Own Light group.
Has this helped you stop worrying about networking? Will you be quitting anytime soon? Tell me in the comments!
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