I get it. Starting a business is scary, and we all experience a variety of moments of truth and days of reckoning – We might freeze right before we turn on our website to the world, before we hit publish on a blog post, introduce a new service to our email list or as we're about to hit the "go live" button on Facebook.
Then there's networking. Putting yourself out there in the public eye to tell people about yourself and your business can be terrifying. In addition, there's also the element of asking people to send business to you. Telling people about ourselves and asking for help… that can make a lot of people feel vulnerable.
But, you KNOW how important networking is and that it can help to grow your business and book out your calendar. If only you could get past the fear…
Thankfully, there are tools you can use to help you feel more confident and techniques you can try to get you feeling downright excited about networking.
Work on your mindset
Our brains are way cool. They want to keep us safe, right? The stress of meeting new people sets off our fight-or-flight response as our brain is seeing a big DANGER sign flashing in front of our eyes.
The trick is to work on shifting your perspective to lower (or maybe even eliminate) that flight response. How you ask?
Define your Why
There's a reason you're in business. Whether you define it as your mission or your Big Why, there is something out there, some purpose that is bigger than you that your heart and soul want to fulfill. By focusing on that Why, the loud chatter in your head quiets down because we can sit in that place in our deepest being of purpose.
Ask how you can serve
It's difficult for many of us to ask for help. It's a lot easier for us to ask how WE can help.
Early in my doula business, I began asking myself, "How can I serve?" It put me in a mindset of service. Approaching networking this way helped me to be curious about others' businesses and lives. Everywhere I went, if I knew I wasn't able to help someone, I would try to give them the name of someone I thought might be able to help.
This is where the phrase "Give to Get" is really set in motion. When you are actively referring people and resources to others, you'll start getting referrals back.
Prepare to network
Know your Ideal Client
For your referral partners to send you the people most likely to hire you, they need to know what to look for. By really knowing who you want to work with, you will be equipped to educate your referral partners. It'll help you to reciprocate by knowing the ideal clients of your partners too!
Be able to simply explain what you do
In order for your partners to match you with potential clients to refer, they need to know what you do without industry terms (like the word "doula") or jargon (they probably won't know or care what the "cascade of interventions" means). Once you come up with your script, you're going to practice and practice until it becomes natural. The first few times you use it, it probably won't feel natural, but find opportunities wherever you can to test it out!
Know what you'll ask
Whether you're going to meet 1:1 or at a networking event, choose a few icebreaker questions that you can fall back on. Practice these questions beforehand and keep a notecard to remind you of them. Also practice answering your same questions, because there's a high probability that once someone answers your question, they'll say something like, "What about you?"
And back to mindset…
When you can focus on the positivity of your Big Why; the helpful question, "How can I serve?"; and you are armed with knowing what you'll say to the new people you're about to meet, there's still that moment right before you walk in the door… or up to the person who might become your next best friend… where that gremlin will pop up next to your ear and try to scare you. Here's what you can ask yourself when you're feeling stuck:
- What exactly am I afraid of in this moment?
- How is this fear serving me?
- What is something wonderful that can happen?
Hopefully, by the time you get to #3, you're confidence level has gone back up and you're ready to meet people!
There's a quote I have up on my wall in front of my computer that one of my business coaches gifted to me. It goes:
You're a kick-ass role model to your peeps. They're out there flailing around and they need someone to tell them what to do.
I feel the exact same way about you.
Find what helps you feel even a little bit better about putting yourself out there. Get yourself some tools and watch your confidence grow as you slay that networking!
If you're interested in learning even more about creating a referral network that helps you attract more clients, Kickstart Your Birth Biz Referral Network can help you do that!