Over the last ten months a few businesses have reached out stating they may shutter citing they can't make it with all of the competition. In addressing this I wanted to share a few snippets regarding conflict and infighting amongst some in several states:
"I cannot network within local groups unwilling to let me in the door"-
And you never will until you change your mindset. What are you personally doing whether your business takes you local or abroad to let yourself be seen right here in your area? Creating your own networking group can be another way to leverage skills you have and may reduce the level of lack luster results. Stop internalizing and get to work.
You should have business cards on you at all times. Why do I keep encountering individuals stating they have a business yet when I request a card they are playing chest piano as if they didn't know already of their unpreparedness. Stop, drop and roll into your local business supplies store or get online for great deals and stop the madness of being un-businessed.
Another stop on the mental freedom train: stop-stop-stop apologizing for being a small business. Big headliners achieving instant greatness are not the norm. Work hard, stay educated on business model goals, reviewing every six months (some say every three months because of the ever-changing technology age-industry pending, watch your budget, reassess and keep it moving.
Trust me, others trying to maintain a larger business are having the same big-little issues you are experiencing. They have mastered the art of the poker face. If you are careful and smart enough you won't need the façade. Extend a hand, give your name, allow them to give theirs. Your introduction should never be all in one sentence. Take a breather and relax. Talking about what you do will naturally become part of the conversation. Go forth and conquer.
I've been a part of a chamber and everyone "knows my name"
As it should be and with any established group big or small. Getting to know the members means having a real conversation without the elevator speech. Some do not know when to turn it off. I have also seen the hunter or mafia style mentality of some who have silent codes of conduct, i.e. don't do business until they join. Strong arming individuals to withhold any interest and waiting for them at their vehicles, visiting them at their place of business to make the unspoken enforcement with possible unpleasant outcomes to future business whatever that is, is wrong.
This may seemingly work but hard research is living proof that all of the skill in the world will not promise you results and no matter how successful a group may be or how much you paid to join cannot promise you strong returns on your investment. Use caution. Understand too the ramifications of the strong-arm approach. Oftentimes those performing these duties are unaware of the silent killer called gossip, sweeping through networks like a summer brush fire obliterating further segways. As much as we would like to think we are all invincible the fact is we're not.
If these are the kinds of individuals who want you to be a part of their group you must ask yourself why you want to join. You have just as much of a right to evaluate and interview any opportunities coming your way for growth. Keep your confidence and countenance when dealing with these voices and silence them by simply moving on until you find what aligns with your standards and ethics. In a perfect world you meet and do business-life goes on. The reality: you will meet unsavory souls along the way and you can maneuver without judgement to make formidable alliances without minefields.
When spending your money you deserve to have the investment be worth it to your bottom line. Know what your assets are and showcase them tastefully. Do not be hasty in offering yourself up so quickly on LinkedIn to those you may have shared connections with on other venues.
Follow your instincts if something is legitimately causing a red flag on other social media, why are you subjecting your professional efforts to those who may be only connecting to take advantage. LinkedIn is not Facebook and you must learn when and how to communicate safely without putting yourself and your trusted connections in jeopardy. Finding the right fit may not be as easy as A-B-C, be patient and work out real verses camouflage.
Another aspect to this is making sure you are friendly, professional and ready to do business. Not showing up as if you have another function to attend allows those you meet to feel as though you really want to be there-present in the moment, not taking off after the first conversation or drink. if you find a good chamber or networking group don't abuse it. Grooming is important. Showing up in jeans, baseball caps and unkempt hair may be your statement but what is it saying to potential connections. Even if you have a live out loud personality be aware of your audience.
Over extending your stay isn't clever either and has been done to death. If you feel the local atmosphere has nothing to offer bow out gracefully no harm done. It doesn't take five years of attending free breakfasts and after hours events to see the pros and cons. Your reputation is at stake, if still undecided after all of this time don't let the wine and cheese hit you on the way out. Have a nice day.
Many variables alter outcomes and making sure you are taking a good hard look in the mirror may be the swift kick you need. Well that and good observations of a good, trusted friend.
Become a true business ambassador by harvesting genuine interest in your social savvy and become limitless.
Until next time~