A conversation I had the other day with an entrepreneur reminded me of the importance to surround yourself with like-minded people. Actually, scratch that, surround yourself with the kind of people that inspire you to be and do better. The fact that you’re the average of the 5 people you hang around the most should say something about the company we keep and connections we won’t make.
It literally was a breath of fresh air to engage with enthusiasm and inspiration bundled up into a woman who is definitely going places. And I got to thinking, why don’t I do this more often? The obvious answer is that I don’t really know many black driven female entrepreneurs. I know OF them, but I don’t KNOW them. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t get to know them right?
We’re all busy with life and kids as moms, but if we’re going to get anywhere in life, we can’t do it alone. There’s an African proverb that says “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” And it’s so true. We can go so much further by joining forces and learning from one another. That is one of the reasons, if not THE reason I co-founded She’s Blazing. But that’s a story and a topic for another day, lol. Point is, even solopreneurs need fellow business women (or men) around them.
If you find it hard to put yourself out there and don’t even know where to begin when it comes to networking or making like-minded connections, here are my top 3 tips to grow your business circle:
Attend Networking Events/Conferences
I know first hand about being shy and feeling out of place or being an introvert, all of that. I’ve simply forced myself to put myself out there. Nonetheless, the great thing about events like these is that you’re bound to not be the only “loner”. Many business people attend these events hoping to make connections, cause if they had all the connections they needed, they probably wouldn’t be there. Heard the phrase “introverts unite”? Yeah, that’s what these events are perfect for. Just show up and you’re bound to have someone talk to you to break the ice.
You would think the auditorium is where the connections are made, but actually, the hallways and ladies room are opportune places to break the ice with fellow attendees. I would also add that you shouldn’t go with the intention to only speak to certain someone or someones because if you leave having not spoken to them, you’ll leave feeling disappointed. The people you least expect may be the instrumental and life-changing connections and friendships you desire.
Don’t Just be on Social Media, USE Social Media
I’ve heard countless stories of people having online besties. And this isn’t through any “dating” sites or apps, but entrepreneurs and social media influencers utilizing Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to actually CONNECT with people. I’ll be honest, half the time that I’m online, I’m either browsing or posting. I very rarely comment. And therein lies the problem. If you’re going to connect with people, you have to talk (or type in this case). It doesn’t have to be a weird or awkward DM. No need to slide into the DMs, lol. But if you frequently engage in the regular comment section, people will take note and be like “hey, this girl is genuinely supporting me.” Most people will respond, maybe not right away, but eventually. Then keep the conversation going from there.
All Email Lists are not Junk Mail
Another part of online engagement is joining people’s email lists. I subscribe to few email lists that I really don’t need. Cause child, that inbox is bursting at the seams as it is, lol. But I do it to A) Support, and B) connect. Don’t just subscribe to the newsletter, but engage by replying and commenting. That’s how you make connections. You obviously may not have time to genuinely connect and engage in this way with a whole bunch of people, and that’s why you need to be intentional about your circle. A strong 5 is all you need, 2 of which you probably already know and have in your personal circle.
If you don’t already have your entrepreneur circle, I hope you find the people that will inspire and propel you to your fullest potential.