Can networking be fun? Absolutely.
Can networking also be tiring? You bet.
As self-employed individuals, you spend most of your time working, but you also need to continuously hustle because clients are not always permanent and you aren't guaranteed a paycheck. This means, you may be networking quite often and it can be daunting sometimes.
You may only be able to listen to your own elevator pitch so many times before you go crazy and probably feel very exhausted by the time that networking happy hour rolls around.
How can you make this a better experience? Here are some quick tips:
Change up your elevator pitch
Maybe you have been focusing on one aspect of your work, but have neglected to speak on another. Perhaps you do a mix of social media marketing, but you also know how to write press releases, so maybe a quick change to re-energize networking is to change your focus. Any part of your work portfolio you have neglected may bring you new clients and a new workload you haven't been doing in quite some time. It is simply a change is how you present yourself and may bring in new experiences that do not drag you down.
Network with a different attitude
A lot of times networking becomes a chore because we make it a chore. You start thinking "I need to find x amount of new leads," but really is that the best approach? When networking becomes a chore, you present yourself differently than just having an authentic conversation and learning about others and their industries. You may not even be picking up on how your body language and facial expressions are changing when you are approaching networking with a level of stress and urgency.
Simply changing your mindset to this being a social gathering--albeit a professional one--where you want to meet new people and formulate new relationships, then you may be oddly surprised at how much more enjoyable networking can be.
Attend new networking events beyond your scope of work
Perhaps you are a self-employed fashion designer, so most of your networking events revolve around fashion. It is always wonderful to stick with your niche, as you may find the most success there, but sometimes it does become a burden always going to the same places and potentially seeing the same faces. Maybe, it is time to branch out and attend other networking events far enough out of your niche to be new but close enough to still be relevant.
As a fashion designer, attending a photography or social media marketing networking event may seem off, but you may be able to formulate a partnership with a photographer or social media content creator to help you with a platform for your business, while also offering them business as well. It is a new niche to look into and you still found success, so a change of scenery could change your current feelings about networking.
Networking can seem like a necessary evil sometimes, but why should it be negative? Let us know if you have found successful ways to make networking fun and engaging.
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Socially Dedicated, a Philadelphia-based firm, provides marketing, content creation, public relations, business management consulting and social media management to small businesses. Check out our website or locate us on social media using the icons below.