Networking is vital to building your reach as a creator. Whether you’re starting a nonprofit, a business, or just wanting to build awareness of whatever else you might be doing, you’re going to have grow your network.
In this post, I’m going to share with you how you can start meeting like minded people today. This is the first step in building key relationships to help expand your community, audience, and/or business.
Get Started Locally
Many people in business are used to going to networking meetings in their local area. BNI, Toastmasters, and the Rotary are just a clubs you can meet other business owners. The great part about these particular clubs is that they’re everywhere.
There are a couple of places where you start looking for groups with similar interests to yours: meetup.com & eventbrite.com. The events that you might find might not be down the street, but they’ll be worth the drive.
For example, when I was first getting my feet wet when it came to entrepreneurship here in Indy, I would go to 3+ meetings a month where entrepreneurs could get together and discuss the newest and coolest things.
After a while, what I came to find out, especially here in Indy, was that I would tend to see the same people each week.
That’s great if what you’re looking to do is build solid foundational relationships. In fact, you might need to start there. However, after a while, the same people can only help you get your reach so far.
You need to keep meeting new people.
When you start feeling the itch to expand, it’s time to change things up.
Getting Out Of Your Town
Going to Conventions
For most industries, the way to meet people has been to gather in places where the leaders of the industries would gather. Conventions have been a part of history for a very long time. Maybe not to the extent that they are today, but they’ve been there.
When people think of conventions, they might think of something like Comic Con or CES. (Both are two that I want to check out before too long.)
I’ve been to my fair share of conventions. When the second trilogy of the Star Wars movies was coming out, I went to a Star Wars convention here in Indy called Celebration. A couple of years later, I went to a few trade shows, and then I started going to a series of business conventions.
Going to events like these – especially to those that you have a deep interest in topics discussed there – is one of the best feelings you can feel. I’m not sure how to entirely describe the feeling, but the best way that I can describe it is like going to a toy store (Toys ‘R Us for me) when you were in middle school.
You understand what it means to be there and there’s just so much potential of what could be.
The big difference between going to a toy store and going to a convention is that when you go to a convention, there’s other people there who are like you. They might have an audience already and doing what you want to do or they might be at your same level and have a missing piece to what you’re wanting to start.
Either way, conventions are a quick way to find people that understand you, think like you, and believe in what you’re doing as a creator.
While nothing can really replace the feeling of going to a convention, you can come close to the after effects (connecting with people) if you learn how to network on social media.
There’s a reason why you can max out your friends list on Facebook at 5000 people. Facebook really doesn’t expect you to really have that many deep relationships. However, they know there will be types of people who want to have as many connections as they can. Whether that’s for business or just for the heck of it, Facebook lets you do it.
So, if you’re a business owner or some other type of creator who wants to get their work known, don’t be afraid to network on Facebook.
For the last couple of years, ever since you had to pay for your page’s posts to reach more than 5% of your audience, groups have been making a huge comeback.
Luckily for you, there’s groups of all kinds.
If you want to build relationships outside of your town, you can start today. Just open up Facebook, search for something you’re interested in, find a group that looks somewhat alive, and then add value to the conversation.
Do that upwards of 20 some times (over a month) and people will know you provide value. Keep doing it over a few months, and you might actually start getting traction in that group as being a figure who knows what they’re talking about!
As you’re engaging in those groups, feel free to add people as friends if they seem like they’re cool. Chances are they’ll accept and you can carry the conversation on outside of the group.
Making It Happen
Eventually you’re going to want to meet with people in person. Whether that’s face to face or through something like Skype, you’ll need to find a time to meet up with someone that you’ve started engaging with.
The Traditional Method:
When you’re looking to meetup with someone you’ve met outside of the usual events or groups you engage in, you might have an idea to send them an email to meet up. You send a few back and forth and you come up with a date and time to get together.
Then, you’re probably going to record it somewhere – unless you have a really good memory.
If you’re a busy person and have lots of meetings, or just like to keep track of things in a calendar, you might use one on your phone, computer, or perhaps online. For me, I use Google calendar for just about everything these days.
It wasn’t always that way. When I had a very repetitive schedule, I had no reason to use one.
Funny enough, I only started using a calendar when I had to start booking guests to interview on my podcast.
And now, I’ll just say it’s easier to write things down in a calendar then it is to try to remember all the events I have to be at or write them down on random pieces of paper.
A quick note: Always get the person’s email that you’re booking a meeting with. That way you can invite them through Google Calendar. This acts as sort of a confirmation that you’re actually putting it in your calendar. If they weren’t already, they’ll take you more seriously this way.
Since many podcasters have guests on their show like me, they have to set recording sessions on a regular basis.
Having to send multiple emails or messages and writing down the agreed upon date can take up a fair amount of time – especially if it’s repeated over and over.
To help gain back some of that time, there have been a few tools created over the years which can make this process much easier.
- Calendly.com If you’re a host and you have a set schedule each week, then Calendly could definitely become one of your favorite tools. All you do is connect it to your Google calendar and let it know what types and length of meetings you’re wanting to do.
After that, it will give you a link to share with people you want to meet with. Once you give it to them, they choose a time and you don’t have to have a trail of emails. Again, pretty handy if you have a set schedule each week!
- Doodle.com This tool is one of my favorites because I have co-hosts who I work into the show whenever possible. It’s a solution for for more than 2 people.
Instead of connecting this to your calendar, you manually pick a few dates and times you’re available to meet. Then, you share a poll with the other people you’re interested in meeting with. They vote on the times that they can get together and if a time has everyone match, that’s the one you choose to get together on.
There are other tools that are very similar to Calendly and Doodle, but I haven’t used them, so I can’t readily tell you the difference. Both of these do what I want them to do when needed!
Back in 2010 when I first started on my journey, groups on Facebook (or LinkedIn for that matter) weren’t as common as they are today. There’s literally no reason why you can’t start building your network today.
Here’s a few steps for you if you haven’t been leveraging Facebook to it’s fullest potential.
- Clean up your profile. Make it look like it’s a run by someone who cares about how they present themselves to the world. If it’s easier to start another “professional” account, then do that instead. Make sure it’s filled out so that you appear as if you’re real.
- Add 5 groups that you think are in your realm of expertise.
- Look for conversations you can add value to and do it. Don’t force yourself onto conversation you know nothing about. 😉
- After a couple of days of engagement, feel free to add up to five people from the group. If they ask you about a new account (provided you made one in step 1), let them know the truth – you’re original profile is too cool for the group! 🙂
Anyhow, hope that helps you build out your network guys. Let me know if you’re struggling. Remember, the more friends you have that are building the same types of things you are, the faster you all will get to where you’re going.
Bonus Video on Booking Yourself Solid:
If you want to set up more potential client meetings, head on over to Fizzle and check out the course by Book Yourself Solid guru Jason Billows.
Here’s an interview of him with Paul McManus to give you a taste of what he’s about: