Most people have been on a rollercoaster. The train starts slowly; you’re thinking “What’s this going to be like?” and “Do I really have to?” and – before you know it – the train starts to pull away and there is no going back.
When I started my proofreading service, I approached a marketing agency and offered my services. They gave me the obligatory test, and then employed me for all their outsourced proofreading projects. I wouldn’t like to say “I cut my teeth” with them, but they certainly threw everything they could at me to see what I was made of. I proofread slide decks, newsletters, blogs, press releases, presentations; I gobbled it up.
Having got one very happy marketing client under my belt, a friend of mine invited me to visit an Athena Networking Group. It was that rollercoaster moment. Do I ask to get off now or just welcome the opportunity to try it out?
I arrived at my first meeting and was welcomed with open arms. With the first introductions over, I then had a “minute” to tell the room about my business. I signed up that day, and fastened my seatbelt!
Networking takes time. People need to understand what you’re about and to grasp what you do. After a few twists and turns, the work started to come in and – within a surprisingly short time – I had earned back the membership fees.
I met people individually to find out more about their business, and to think of ways that I could help them by connecting them with people I knew. The same thing happened for me. One of my regular proofreading clients is a client reference specialists company based 165 miles north of here. Can you imagine the chances of meeting them without networking?
I set myself a goal of networking with three people per month outside of the regular meeting, including a “wild card” – someone who interests you but who, at first glance, might not be an obvious business relationship. These are the corkscrews; the meetings that spin you in directions that you are not prepared for.
Very soon the rollercoaster ride was picking up speed. I was still on board and, with the increased acceleration, I added a copywriting carriage. My new passengers included training providers, jewellery specialists, business coaches, graphic designers and virtual PA’s.
One of the greatest tips I can give anyone before they take their seat on their networking rollercoaster, is not to dismiss anyone as irrelevant to you or your business. Just this week, a lady who – on the face of it – did not look like an obvious connection for me, asked if we could meet. When I followed it through, I found that – wearing a different hat – she writes subtitles for film scripts!
Networking has been a life changer. It has brought different and exciting new business opportunities, but it has also brought powerful new relationships with inspiring people. I have met and learned from people I would never otherwise have met, never mind worked with.
If you are thinking about starting to build a network, have a look at the different “rollercoasters” available to find the track that is right for you and your business. Once you have one in view, prepare your business cards and LinkedIn profile, invite yourself along, fasten your seatbelt and hold on tight!
You can’t see what’s coming, but it’s definitely worth the ride!