Have you been to a OUTBIZ networking evening yet?
I often refer to myself as a ‘mainstreamer’ — being gay is a part of who I am but not solely what I am — so I spend a lot of time networking in many varied and diverse groups. Having said that, I do feel there is a real need to draw like-minded LGBTIbusiness people together — enter left OUTBIZ.
Our first OUTBIZ networking evening was held at The Dickson Tradies with around sixty people attending — a great start. Over the next few months we will begin building a membership from community members from all walks of life. (see photos below)
OUTBIZ — Canberra’s LGBTI Business Network will be a place where people can connect with others, expand their business, find new customers or suppliers, socialise and support the local queer business community. Whether you are a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and intersex community or would like to support and connect with LGBTI businesses, we encourage you to come along and join in on all the fun.
Over the years I have had to work hard at building my networking skills as it is something that doesn’t come easy to me. I am quiet shy by nature so I have to put myself out there! Networking can be a great way of meeting new people to build and develop your business and personal relationships. I often have to jump outside of my comfort zone to promote my business and my services in public forums and with the launch of the new OUTBIZ network in Canberra, I thought it worthwhile to put together some of the tips my business coaches have given me over the years as networking, like all skills, can be enhanced and refined.
Networking is all about connection: sharing information and ideas, expanding your knowledge, growing your contacts and of course supporting others along the way.
Here are my top networking tips
1. Move Out of Your Comfort Zone
As the saying goes, you get back what you put out there. Make the effort not to cancel a networking opportunity after a big day at work, and put yourself out there to meet new people outside of your circle.
2. Have Your Introduction and ‘Elevator Pitch’ Planned
This is all about how you answer the question, “What do you do?” This takes some skill and practice to master and remember, it is about engaging people rather than selling to them. You need a hook and you need to actively listen to “serve” not “sell”. When people ask me what I do I often say, ‘I help people to sleep well at night’. This leads people to want to ask more or know more about what I am on about and is a great conversation starter!
3. Cherish the Business Card
Always have plenty of your cards with you and respect any cards you get from others. I often make a comment on the content or feel of the cards I receive. It’s also a great tool to remember people’s names that you meet as well. Check out some of the phone applications to store copies of cards and jot down details of people you meet (after the event of course not while you are meeting them).
4. Follow Up
When you meet some new people and connect, follow up with a phone call or email or arrange a one-on-one coffee if you think there is opportunity to do some business together. If you have committed to do something when you meet people, make sure you follow through.
Networking can be fun; it is purely meeting new people or getting to know people a little more. If you need assistance in exploring these further talk to a professional but most importantly start your journey to being free around your money and creating wealth with understanding.
The information provided in this article is of a general nature only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information you should consider its appropriateness having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.