Networking is something that can seem scary, especially for the introverts out there! However what I am realizing is that baby steps is what it takes sometimes to conquer anything that can be blocking us.
For me, large groups have always been a source of anxiety. The thought of being in a room with like 50 people, made me break out my sneakers to head for the hills. I would go to these events though and put on a smile but I rarely would talk because of the overwhelming feelings of "everyone was staring at me, what if I say something stupid, and o lord did I actually say that" which to be honest is the farthest thing from the truth, but at the time it was a paralyzing aspect of myself.
Knowing I was going to start running this business I knew networking was going to be something I had to do, and I wanted to conquer it. I thought at first, dealing with it head on was the answer, but then I had a moment of clarity.
We crave community, in whatever way we define it. It is something our souls need in order to feel fulfilled and have our cups runneth over. Community can be anything that involves other people and I saw that my idea of networking was limiting me in how I approached things. I thought I had to go to certain events even though my heart wasn't in it because that is where the "clients" where. What I realized though is that isn't right at all. I can choose where I network and who I network with and it doesn't always have to be the largest group out there.
Put me into a room with one, two or even 10 people and I am in my comfort zone, those smaller settings are what sets my passion to encourage others on fire, so why not start there and work up to those events? It makes sense and I put that into action last week. It's what I am honestly able to do at this current moment in my life.
Inset Jaye Kogut! This lovely photographer reached out in a private Facebook group we are a part of last week asking if anyone wanted to meet up for coffee, as she was in town on a "workcation" and wanted to meet new people. It seemed like the universe was shining down and saying "Ok Nicole, you've got this" and I went for it. We arranged to meet up at a local coffee shop, the Post East, and just hang out. I was nervous because I had never met her before, but there was a level of confidence going in that this was going to be a great start to this new me in networking.
I wasn't wrong either. I so enjoyed just chatting with her over coffee about both of our dreams and what we do and what we want to do in the future. Jaye is an absolutely fantastic wedding photographer, but she also has big ideas about what she wants for her future and I am so excited to see those come to life, though I will let her share those with you when she is ready! (she also took these amazing photos!)
We have been programmed to think that the larger things in life are what we have to go after, but we forget so easily that the smaller simpler things are still just as good and most of the time better. I am excited to take these baby steps in learning how I want to network, and I encourage you to define how you want to network not what others say you should be doing. Networking is good for the soul ya'll, so let's get out there and do it the way that let's us shine!
If you're in the Nashville area, let me know as I am thinking of starting a small coffee chat type group for female small business owners who want an outlet to share the ideas they have and help lift each other up!