When I first started my business, I joined a business club where they offered different workshops. Networking was one of the workshops and the only thing I remember from it is to make sure that you have a napkin when you go to your little cocktail table and pick up a canopy so that you can clean your hands before shaking someone else's hands. That is literally all I remember from this 2-hour workshop
So, I am so excited to talk to Julie Brown, because networking is such a valuable tool and the people you meet will change your life. Networking is one of the most important ways to meet those people whether you meet them in real life, or whether you meet them online.
Julie Brown is a sought-after speaker, a networking expert, a business strategist and an author of This Shit Works: A No-Nonsense Guide to Networking Your Way to More Friends, More Adventures, and More Success, a book that is dedicated to making networking easy, accessible, and even fun. Julie is also the host of This Shit Works Podcast.
Julie grew up in corporate America, as most of us do. She was in charge of marketing and business development for a number of different firms and what she quickly realized was, the more people she knew, the more successful she was. In 2010 she helped her husband, who is an architect, launch his practice- he launched in the sense that he's the designer, he did all the administrative things and he designs the homes, but she was in charge of bringing in all of the work. At that point, she realized how powerful building a network was. She didn't know that over the past 11 years she was building a network that was going to have the ability to build other companies. That was her “aha moment” in 2010.
In 2010 she built her own company with her network. We all go to college and we learn our skills for our profession, without realizing how important building business relationships and building relationships, in general, are to our business success. So, she said to herself: Well, I'll just teach it. I'll teach people how to build networks and create webs of people around them that are people who are invested in their success. That's when she decided to launch her own firm. She launched it in 2016, and it is a hybrid of online and in-person. Some people work with her online and some people if they're in the same vicinity as Julie, work with her in person.
Are you networking with the right people?
According to Julie, there are no wrong people to network with, but there is a way to be very strategic about the rooms that you are in, whether those rooms are actual physical rooms that you walk into or whether they're online rooms or organizations that you join. You need to ask yourself: Where are your clients, what rooms would your clients be in? Next, you figure out how you can be in those rooms.
There's a number of ways you can do that:
- You can attend events where your potential clients would be
- You can join organizations that you know would have a seat at the table with potential clients
And then invest time in being in those rooms and building those relationships.
This might be a bit harder if you’re an introvert, but there's never really a person who is 100% introverted or 100% extroverted. 85% percent of people fall in between, where they're a little bit of both. It is all about energy and where do you get your energy from.
How to network if you are an introvert or extrovert
Introverts are bad at networking and extroverts are good at networking is a myth, because it's all about energy. So, what introverts need to do is go into rooms with a full battery; Do whatever you need to do to feel comfortable to go into that room with a full battery and do your research before you go into that room so that it's easier for you to be there: understand who might be in that room, have your list of things that you can talk about with people.
Julie does this thing called the “List yourself approach.” It's in her book, and it's exactly what it sounds like. You make a list of all of the things that make you a badass human being:
- what you like to do in this world
- all experiences that you had, etc.
When you do that and someone gives you permission to talk about things that aren't work-related at a networking event, you increase the surface area with which you are allowed to connect with people, you have a reason for follow-up, you have a reason to build that relationship.
When it comes to translating those skills into the world of social media, the first thing, and it is probably the hardest thing, is to really understand who you are and the way you want to disseminate your information. The way that you want to talk about your product or yourself, you really have to understand the language with which you want to describe who you are and what you do.
The work that we do online with our social presence is creating content. When you are creating content in your authentic voice, it is so much easier to create content and disseminate information versus how do people want to hear you say this or what do you think people want to hear. You have to understand
- your genius zone
- what you worked hard to be a professional at
- how you want to portray yourself as yourself in that space
So, whatever you're doing online for your business, put your real self into it because people want to connect with you.
When you are asked to be a speaker, treat it as a networking opportunity. Stay away from death by PowerPoint and slides.
My new rule: I do have my slide deck for structure, but I leave it on there as a minimum before I turn the whole thing back on me so that I can literally try to look into that little eye of the camera and connect with the audience.
Result: People are less bored, they can see your excitement, they can see that you care. They do have the structure when they need it, for those who are more analytical, but it is a new world and you need to treat your audience as people. Also, I don't have opt-ins after a workshop, but I tell people to email me so that we can strike up a conversation that way. Do I miss out on signups on my email list? Sure, but I enroll clients this way.
You need to understand that you are not going to grow a network overnight. If you are new at building a network, and you went to one event a week and you met two new people at one event per week, at the end of the year you would have met 104 new people. That's a lot of people to try to maintain a relationship with.
Building a network
When you build your network, slowly and steadily you really get to know those people in your network and follow-ups are really easy. 80% of building and maintaining relationships is having a way to follow up and stay in contact. The more you know about the people that you're connecting with, the more you understand what their needs are, what keeps them up at night, what they really like to do, the easier it is for you to reconnect with them in a consistent way. Julie calls it the “cadence of your connections”, how many times a year can you reach out to them and say:
- Hey, I was thinking about you…
- I saw this article that reminded me of our conversation…
- I saw this post that you put up and I really liked it…
Julie keeps a checklist by her desk and on that checklist, it says that she has to reach out to three people in her database every single week, whether that's via text message, email, or via call. She explains that when you reach out to somebody for no other reason than just say hey, that feels good and those people want to help you when you do that.
This might sound simple (and it is) but a lot of times in business, the simple things are the hard things, because we get inundated with other things to do, and the little things that only take a moment keep getting pushed off. Make your checklist and keep track. You can also send handwritten cards to people all the time. There's a statistic that we get around 100 emails a day, but how many cards do people get a day? None. A card, although it takes a couple of days to go through the post, has a lasting impression. It's the little things that will make you stand out from the crowd.
Remember that you do not have to be born into a network, you do not have to be born into a well-connected family, you don't have to have an Ivy League education to be worthy of building a successful network. Wherever you are starting from, wherever you are starting from, it's not a determining factor on where you're allowed to go. You are worthy of building a network and building a successful career and not killing yourself while doing it.