As a coach I try and live my brand and constantly look at what I am not doing and where I am uncomfortable and grow from it. After all, just outside your comfort zone is where the magic happens. As a small business start-up, I have plenty of things I avoid like the plague, and top of the list, is the dreading NETWORKING.
Urgh, just the word can paralyse me. Not because I am not confident, or don’t like speaking in front of people – far from it! It’s the HAWKWARD sidling up to people, who are also feeling uncomfortable, and the sometimes-inauthentic small talk that I have never liked. Nibbling on canapes with your hand bag over your arm and drink in the other. Trying to look professional and totes relaxed, eating stood up. Trying not to ‘sell to the room’ whilst blatantly only putting myself through this hell because I ultimately want to sell something to someone, in the room or not. HATE IT!
But the reality is, for small business, networking is a life line that cannot be ignored. People buy from people that they know, like and trust. Increasingly in this digital age, personal connections are what make you or your business stand out amongst the continuous stream of content and information in our social feeds. And the isolation of starting your own business is not to be under estimated either – if your immediate family and social network are not doing it, they just don’t get it and struggle to know how best to support you. If you are an external thinker like me, not having people around to bounce off of and shoot the breeze can be stifling, not to mention BORING!
I self-coached myself in to a glut of different networking events that I didn’t want to go to, and don’t get me wrong I got some great stories from some of them. But some were more successful than others and I started to learn from what was working for me.
Turns out, news flash, the ones I didn’t enjoy, I didn’t make connections from. The ones where I felt relaxed and myself were the ones I got the most out of. Shocker! I met collaborators, friendly competitors, service providers, friends and clients from the events that didn’t feel corporate and inauthentic and were in environments where I felt comfortable.
The problem was that finding these to work with my schedule was hard. Another thing about being a start-up is that your time becomes liquid gold and you have to be available when your customers need you and when the work needs doing, not just when is convenient to you. I had to work smart, because I couldn’t work any harder or longer, and knew I needed something else.
This is when I found Girl Tribe Gang. The only social channel I use for pleasure is Insta, and this is where I found the inspiring tiles of Catherine Asta Labbett, founder of GTG. Her classy, edgy and REAL approach to this networking malarkey really resonated with me. Honest and collaborative and fitting in to an already busy lifestyle.
The all-girl GTG meet ups are once a month only, in divine locations, with a break for August summer hols and a Christmas party in December. Each meet up is capped to 2 hours and have time for relaxed, assisted networking (with no food!!) as well as an engaging power hour on all sorts of subjects to help you or your business grow. This format just worked perfectly for me and fitted around my life and commitments.
It’s not just for small business and start-ups either. Those in the 9-5 or considering taking the plunge to self-employment are well catered for in the content and format. There is a Facebook group that gives you nationwide access to other tribe members and opportunities for collaborations that are best for your business, not just close to your business, as well as the team in the Expert Hub. And the beautiful insta feed is a daily dose of joy and relief that I often visit to help me keep the faith on the really pants days.
I loved it so much, I started my own tribe, with the mission of using a coaching approach to help my members make the most of the time they are investing in the sessions. Based at the utterly gorgeous Hurley House Hotel, the Maidenhead and Windsor tribe launches on 10 September at 7.30. I’d love for you to join me and experience something a little bit different that might just stop you recoiling at the word networking - and who knows, you may even enjoy it (easy tiger!). Give it a go! – I’d love to help you fall in love with networking and find your tribe. Grab a guest ticket now on Eventbrite or at www.brightyellowcoaching.com/events.