Six Steps to Networking with Success

6 steps to successful networking Last July, I moved to Raleigh from Northern Virginia and started my new career a week later. Not only was I new to my marketplace, I was new to my industry as well. I had started a business that was based on building relationships and I didn’t know a soul. Even though this was somewhat daunting, I approached it with a child-like enthusiasm and wanted to hit the ground running. My second week here in Raleigh, I went to my first networking meeting. I had no business cards, no thirty-second commercial and no real idea what I was doing….but I was enthusiastic! I spent the next several weeks attending as many networking groups as I could and meeting as many people as possible. I continued at this lightning speed for a while, until all of the sudden reality struck. I woke up one morning and it dawned on me, “I’m new here, I don’t know anyone, and I have no idea what I’m doing.” I was plagued with debilitating panic and fear. “What if nobody likes me, what if nobody wants what I have to offer, and what if I don’t make it.” I had all of these thoughts running through my head constantly and NOTHING could stop them. And then I remembered something that the President of our company said during orientation.

1. In order to be successful, I must work harder on myself than I do on my business.

Those words kept swirling around in my head and I knew I had to take a step back. I had to figure out the root of this fear and take the time to work through it so hopefully I would come out the other side. I put my business down; I completely disengaged from it and focused on myself. I took a long, hard look in the mirror, did some self-examination, prayed and wrote in my journal. I spent time on my own going for walks and exploring this new area. Finally, I found my peace. Through this process, I learned something else extremely valuable….

2. Not only did I need to believe in myself, I also needed to believe in our products and believe in our company.

Now that I had worked on myself, I needed to do more research on our company and the products we had to offer. I studied our product line and spent time on our company website learning more about our mission, goals and values. I knew that if I was going to be successful, all of this had to be in line with my own personal mission, goals and values.

I attended my first company training camp during this time of huge uncertainty. I didn’t even know if I was going to continue working here. I used those few days as an opportunity to meet new people, learn about their experiences and find out why they were working for the company. At the end of the camp, I was convinced that I was in the right place doing exactly what I was meant to do. I was ready for the next step.

3. Get focused and streamline my process.

I was back! I had a fresh enthusiasm and was ready to get serious. I worked on my 30 second commercial, practicing it over and over again. I didn’t want to sound nervous or unsure, I wanted to sound confident and natural. I chose three networking groups and committed to attending each of them on a weekly basis. I also learned how to have a one-on-one appointment. The goal wasn’t to sell anything or anyone, it was to learn about the person in front of me and his/her business. It was about building relationships. This fact alone took the pressure off of me completely. I went to every meeting and every appointment with one goal-to learn something new. Once I did this, networking became an enjoyable experience.

In my business, we hold events that are designed to encourage and educate people, to leave them feeling motivated and inspired. This leads me to my next point.

4. Don’t take “NO” personally.

Now it was time to plan my first event. My Agency Vice President was coming down from Northern Virginia to help me with it. My only job was to fill the room. “Invite, invite, invite.” That is what she told me. “I will give the presentation, you make sure people are there to hear it.” My temptation upon hearing those words was to stress out, and I fought that with every ounce of my being. I was also told not to worry about the “NO”, usually it doesn’t really mean “NO”, it just means “not right now.” For the next few weeks, I set out to fill the room. I designed hand-made invitations, I sent out an e-vite, I mentioned it at every networking group and every appointment, and I posted it all over social media. Before I knew it, our event was here. Sixteen people came and it was a tremendous success. I could breathe a sigh of relief….until a few weeks later when it was time to plan my next event. I remembered one more thing that I had learned during orientation that was extremely helpful to me.

5. The only two things I can control are my attitude and my activity.

The fact that my first event was so successful was both a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing because I did what I set out to do. I was noticed by the “higher-ups” and even received a personal phone call from our President himself. It was a curse, as well. I had set the bar so high for myself that I feared I wouldn’t be able to hit those numbers again the next time. I chose to put those fears aside, however, and focus on the words above…”the only two things I can control are my attitude and my activity.” I can’t control if people are going to attend or if they will one day become clients, I can’t control if they will even be interested. What I can control is my outlook. I can maintain a positive attitude, not get discouraged, and stay active. The exciting thing is that I never know who God will place in my path, so I get up each morning eager to find out.

6. Don’t give up.

I was told from the very beginning that it would take 18-24 months for me to get my business up and running. I was also told that because most people can’t wait that long, many of them give up before they make their first sale. The President of our company says that it’s like starting in a ditch. There is a big boulder sitting in front of you and your goal is to roll it out of the ditch and up a big hill. It takes a lot of work, especially at the beginning, to build the momentum and get that boulder moving. If you sit down, you run the risk of letting the boulder run backwards and crush you. I’m determined to not let that happen. So, every morning I make the choice to push the boulder a little farther. I trust that as I do, the momentum will continue to build and one day I’ll find myself running a successful business.

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Allison Strickland
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