In October of 2018, I set a goal to get outside my comfort zone and start networking with entrepreneurs in the twin cities. I added personal brand photography to my offerings, and knew that meeting fellow business owners would be essential if I wanted to get this new venture going. So for the past six months, my calendar has been packed with meetings, events, and coffee dates with new people.
As great as it has been to meet a ton of new people, I’ll admit, I’ve been really busy. Who would have thought that making new friends and making new connections would be so time consuming? Networking can be exhausting, and although I often come home tired after a full day of work and then meetings, I always learn something that made it worth my time.
I’ve been attending a ton of events, and have connected with solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, artists, writers, and bloggers. These are people I want to meet but coming into this circle fresh was very intimidating.
Everyone seems to know everyone, and when you’re the new kid in town, it brings out a lot of anxiety. I’ve sat in my car and almost driven away, gone to the bathroom to give myself a pep talk, and definitely put those little wooden appetizer sticks in my pockets because I was too afraid to throw them away?!?! Why?
I don’t know why it’s so scary to walk into a room of strangers and say hello, but I’ve forced myself to do it. And the results have been worth every nervous stomach ache.
Since I attended my first non wedding networking event, I’ve made some amazing friends! I now have monthly coffee and cocktail dates with fellow business owners where we support one another. We can unload and talk about things we struggle with, and help each other out where we can.
If you are thinking about putting yourself out there through networking, do it! I may be new at this, but if you are like me and want to dive in, here’s a few pieces of advice from my experience.
- Start small. The first few events I went to were small, and that’s where I made the best personal connections. If you start really big, you could literally walk into a room with 50-200 people and not talk to anyone. At least when it’s small it forces you to connect.
- Not every experience is going to be amazing. I’ve gone to a few events where I didn’t connect to anyone and that’s ok! I even joined a group once and things didn’t work out (it sucked…. I’ll save that story for another day). I’ve learned that there are all kinds of people out there; so if you don’t find your tribe right away, that’s cool. I’m still working on finding mine too.
- Be persistent and follow up. If you like an event you attended, attend again! It takes a few times for people to get to know you! If you think you hit if off with someone, follow up with them personally and see if you can treat them to a coffee.
Building relationships takes time, especially here in Minnesota where everyone knows everybody already. Networking with fellow business owners has inspired me to try new things, keep pushing through the struggles, and to believe in yourself.
I’ll continue attending events and meetings even in my busy wedding season. If you want to join me for one, please let me know! Would love to connect with you!
Want to get to know each other more? Here are some more personal blogs that focus on business