If I want to go with like a really cheesy analogy, I could say that finding a networking group that's your perfect fit is a lot like being on the show The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. You are The Bachelorette. You are going to be dating quote-unquote all of these different networking events. And until you find the ones or one that is right. You. Hey, friends, and welcome to the Girl Means Business podcast, I'm your host, Kendra Swarns, a photographer and educator on a mission to help you find your passion, power and purpose through entrepreneurship.
So let's jump right into today's episode, because this girl means business. Hey there. Welcome back to the Grown Means Business podcast for another wonderful week here on the show. I might be a little bit loopy right now because I'm coming off of an entire week with my kiddos for spring break. We didn't go anywhere for spring break. We decided to just have a little staycation here at the house. But my husband was at town for a lot of the week and so it was just me and the girls.
And I'm exhausted, kind of running on fumes right now. They're back in school and things are getting back to normal. But it just gave me a little taste of what summer is going to be like. And I don't know that I'm quite ready for it just yet. So if you are coming off of spring break, let me just give a little like hallelujah to you because you get it. If your kids are just heading into spring break, just know that I'm praying for you because it's a lot.
It's exhausting. It's fun, but it's super exhausting. And if you're traveling, you're going somewhere fun. Please think of me and have a drink for me as well. All right, guys. We are jumping into week three of our marketing madness series. This is going to wrap up our Marketing Madness series. Now, obviously, this is not the last time we will talk about marketing because that's a huge part of the show. But this series was focusing on creative and sort of outside the box ideas.
So today, I want to talk to you about network marketing. Now, some of you listening might be thinking network marketing that doesn't really fit with what I'm doing or it's not really my brand. I'm not trying to advertise to other businesses. But that's exactly all that network marketing is. And so let me tell you a little bit about how I used to view network marketing when I was first starting my photography business. I remember being invited to this networking luncheon like a women's luncheon and thinking, why would I go to that?
Like, that's not my client. I'm not trying to work with other businesses. I don't have like a stuffy desk job. I'm not a corporate type. I don't think I would fit in. I didn't understand the purpose behind it. I didn't understand how networking groups worked. And I in my mind, they were sort of these stuffy luncheons where people came and just marketed themselves. And it was cheesy and just felt kind of car salesman ish. And I did anything to do that.
It also didn't help the fact that I was teaching full time. And so I couldn't just take off and go to these luncheons now as my business has grown. And as I learned that you can really find clients anywhere. I started to embrace the network marketing idea a little bit more. But I'm not going to lie still had my reservations.
So I sort of dipped my toe in the water a little bit. And when I was off of my teaching job for the summers, when I had daytime's that I could go do things. I started kind of finding these little women's luncheon groups to go to. And I would get dressed up, but I would take my business cards and I would go to these luncheons and I would sit awkwardly to table with people who all seem to already know each other and have a connection.
And I felt like the new kid in school trying to find a lunch table to sit at. And I hated that feeling. It was awkward. It was uncomfortable. I didn't love it. But what I learned was that not all networking groups are created equal. There are so many networking events going on everywhere and a day to day basis that you're not going to be a fit for all of them. And that's okay. It's a lot like dating.
You're not going to be a fit. You're not going to be compatible with every single person you go on a date with. But you go on those dates to find that out. So going to different networking events and figuring out are these my people? Are these people that I have something in common with? Are these people that I get along with? Are these businesses that I feel like I could work with or that we could offer something of value to each other?
Is the environment something that is conducive to what I like to do? Is it sitting in a stuffy conference room talking? Is it going out to happy hour and having drinks and appetizers? Is it doing something fun as a group? You know, what are the ways that these different networking groups are connecting people together and find the ones that fit for you? If I want to go with like a really cheesy analogy, I could say that finding a networking group that's your perfect fit is a lot like being on the show.
The Bachelor. The Bachelorette. You are The Bachelorette.
You are going to be dating, quote unquote, all of these different networking events until you find the ones or one that is right for you. And it's okay to have a multiple networking groups. So you might have one. That's a really great fit because they have a happy hour once a month that you really love going to. But then you might have another one that meets during the day for these education like lunch and learn type events. So. Finding multiple events is fine.
Just make sure you find ones that are offering something of value to you and where you can be a value to them as well. So let's talk about where to find these events, because it's all good and great for me to sit here and say go find these events. But actually finding the events is not always that easy. So two places that I go to find events is Facebook events and Eventbrite. Both places are great for finding smaller local events to your area, and both of them allow you to sort of filter your search by different criteria.
So you go into Facebook events and you can search by location, by date, by the type of event.
And you can look and see what events are going on in your area that you feel like might be something you're interested in. Same thing on Eventbrite. You can go in there and you can search by date, location criteria, all those kinds of things. One of the things I like about doing this on Facebook is that a lot of times the events are going to be linked back to a Facebook group or Facebook page. And so the reason I like that is because then I can see what other events have they hosted?
Have they had multiple networking events where I can go back and see other events that they had created, or I can see images from other events that they've hosted, such as happy hours or get togethers or lunch and learns. And I can kind of get a feel just by digging a little deeper into their page about the type of people and the type of events that they host. And that can give me a little bit of insight into whether or not I feel like it might be a good fit for me and my business.
If it bites a little harder to do that where they do, usually linked to whoever is hosting the event. But it's not as easy to kind of see. In fact, it usually links back to a website or Facebook page. So for that reason, I tend to stick with digging through the Facebook events first. And then a lot of times I go to Eventbrite. If I'm looking for any larger events or more sort of conference type things I want to join in with.
Now, some networking groups are going to charge you a fee. There are some that have a membership attached to them. There are some that are going to be free, but there's going to be some that are going to have you pay to play now before you pay to play. They'll usually let you come to one or two events free of charge or at a really low cost price. So again, you want to choose wisely which ones you're willing to invest in.
But if it's a reasonable price and I say a reasonable meaning, they'll probably less than $20 or the $23 range. If it includes a good dinner or a lunch, then in my opinion that's worth investing just to try and see if it's a good fit. Now, if they're wanting to, you pay like one hundred dollars or fifty sixty dollars for an event. I tend to go a little more skeptical of those because I want to know. I want to try before I buy.
I don't want to invest a lot of money into a networking group that I'm not confident that is going gonna be a good fit for me. So if a networking event is offering a paid option, then maybe see if they have other options that are free. A lot of times they'll have free options in addition to their paid options for just for people like this that want to come in and try and try it out before they invest in becoming a member.
So spend a little time researching the different events. Make a a calendar or a list and say, okay, I'm going to attend to networking events a month. So I'm going to do some research. I'm going to find the two events that I feel like are a good fit and maybe one's a paid event and one's a free event or however you want to organize that. But trying to get out in to the networking world will make a huge difference in your business.
I know a lot of business owners who feel like they just want to hide behind their computer. They want to have a completely online business. They don't want to have to go out and meet people. They are introverts. They are working a full time job and they're exhausted by the time they get home. And I get it. I totally get it. If I could run my entire business in my pajamas from my office, I would do it in a heartbeat.
But I have learned that a huge part of building a successful business is building connections and relationships with other people. And the best way to do that is to get out of your comfort zone and go and meet people in person. For me, I find that the hardest part is actually getting out of the house. It's the getting ready, it's the having to do my hair and put on makeup and find something cute to wear and all those things. But once I'm there, it's so much fun because again, you never know who you're going to meet and you never know where your next clients can come from or where your next partnerships can come from.
Some of these networking events that I've gone to have led to really great. Friendships. I went to one on a whim. I had a friend who was starting a new business and she invited me to a navigator group for young professionals in our area. And it was a happy hour at this little tacos and tequila kind of place. So we're gonna go have margaritas and snack on chips in case. So it's going be great. So I get there and my friend, who I was supposed to be going with messages me at the last minute and says that something came up and she's not able to go.
And my initial idea, my initial thought was a turnaround, a walkout. But I was already in the parking lot. I was already walking up to the door. So I said, you know what? It's fine. I want to walk in. I'm going to talk to some people and they'll stay for about 30 minutes and then I'll head out. Well, guys, I end up staying for almost two hours because when I walked in and I went to the bar and I got a drink and I went over to where the group was and I started chatting up with a couple ladies.
And then the group kind of got larger and we all sat down and ordered food. The next thing I know, I'm having these really amazing conversations and I'm having a really good time. And I even met a lady at that group who has now become a good friend of mine. We're both in the wedding industry and we have worked together multiple times. I send her business. She sends me business. We have worked together on projects that we have ideas for.
It's been a really great connection. And so that one event where I was ready to walk out the door, I did even want to go inside because I didn't have that safety net of my friend being there, but because I stepped out of my comfort zone, because I was willing to go in and say, okay, I'm gonna spend 20 or 30 minutes, I'm gonna have a drink and a couple of snacks come out. And it led to some really great relationships.
You know, I use that same trick on myself going to the gym sometimes. I always tell myself, okay, I'm going to go. I'm gonna do 20 minutes. And if I'm done after 20 minutes, I will leave. But at least I gave it 20 minutes. And so if you're the type of person who is sitting here saying, Kindra, I hate talking to people. And the biggest introvert, I'm shy. I'm quiet. I don't do small talk.
I get it. I 1000 percent get it even though I'm an Enneagram 7. And I love to talk to people. Sometimes I just don't have the energy. Sometimes it just drains me. But sometimes I go into these events with that mindset of I'm just going to stay for like the first 20 or 30 minute. And then I give myself permission to leave and I end up staying for ever for two hours, for an hour and a half or however long.
And I meet some really amazing people. So my challenge to you is to make a point to go to one or two networking events a month, whatever fits with your comfort level. If it's 1 a month, if you have not been to a networking event at all. Pick one. Just go to one and see what you think. If you are used to going to these events, then my challenge to you is pick a new one. Someone someplace you haven't gone yet.
A group you haven't tried out. An event you haven't been to and see if it doesn't broaden your group of people that you network with. See if it does it broaden your view of how you can your business can expand because I think it's really crazy exciting to think of. How can meeting just one new person impact my business? Or the flip side, how can meeting one new person help me to impact their business? Because it goes both ways.
If you go into a networking event thinking this is all about me and how I can get value from this and you're not offering something of value in return, then it's not going to work out for you. But if you go into it with the mindset of how can I feed into somebody else and hope that someone else feeds into me, then you're going to have this really great open mind and amazing things are gonna happen. All right. So once you have picked your networking event to go to, let's talk about how to prepare for that event.
Because, again, like I said, for me, the hardest part is just getting there. Once I'm there, I'm fine. It's the getting out of the house and going to the event. That's the hard part for me.
So I have kind of a little mental checklist that I go through when it comes to preparing for these networking events, both mentally and physically. So mentally, the first thing I do is I have a goal in mind. So my goal most the time is to introduce myself and talk to three new people. Now, again, I've been doing these for a little while. So three people was not my original goal. When I first started going to these, my original goal was I'm going to have a conversation with one person that I don't already know.
And that's the key. It's easy to say I'm a talk to one person. If you go with your business BSF and you talk to each other the whole time, that's not helping you network. That's not your one person. So you have to say my goal is to. Meet and talk to one new person, or maybe it's three new people, however you want to set your goal based on what you feel like you're capable of doing. That's your choice.
But going in with a goal in mind helps you to make sure that you kind of stay focused and that you don't get distracted by listening to all these other people and not having a conversation of your own. So go in with a goal in mind, whatever that goal might be based on the event, based on what you've done in the past or what your comfort level is. So that's how I mentally prepare myself for a networking event. Now, physically preparing myself, I want to make sure that I dress to feel really good.
If you go back and listen to episode 43, where I interview Jennifer Mackie marry and we talk about dressing to feel your best. We talk about the fact that dressing to look good doesn't always mean wearing a power suit or wearing a dress or wearing even like dress pants. You want a dress to show off who you are as a person, as a creative, as a business owner. You want to dress somehow that shows off your personality and your style, but also makes you look professional.
Now, obviously, you need to dress for the event as well. So if you're going to a really nice luncheon, then you might want to wear a cute dress with a jacket and some boots, or you might want to wear a skirt and a top or some dress pants and a little dress your shirt. If you're going to happy hour where it's at this really cool indoor outdoor bar, then nice jeans and a cute top will do just fine.
But again, you need to dress to fit your personality and not just dress to fit into what you think people think you should look like, because then you're going to go in feeling not competent, you gonna be uncomfortable, and you're not going to have as many conversations as you want because you don't feel your best. So always make sure that you are putting in a little effort to find outfits that make you feel really good about how you look so that when you're walking up to someone introducing yourself, you feel 100 percent confident about that.
The next thing I always make sure that I do, and this may seem super obvious, but let me tell you, it's not bring business cards.
Guys, I have made this mistake more times than I care to admit, but I'm terrible at business cards like so terrible. And I think that I went for maybe a year and a half not even having business cards because I'd run out and just forgot to order more. And so I would go to these events and not have a business card with me. And I would look so ridiculous saying, well, can you follow me on Instagram? And while that might be something people do anyway, they're going to follow you on Instagram or you can pull up your Instagram account and let them follow you or Facebook or LinkedIn or whatever platform you want them to find you on.
But you need to have a business card as well. So make sure that you have some in your purse or in your pocket or whatever you're bringing with you. Have a handful of business cards to make sure that you have something to give out to people, which on a side note about business cards. A couple of key things. I want to make sure that you have your business card and these might sound like things that are obvious. But guys, I've received enough business cards to know that they aren't all as obvious as you might think.
One example is making sure that your contact information is on your business card. Now, I know you're buying getting older. I'm going to have my contact information on my business card, guys. I I've received so many business cards that surprisingly don't have this information. They might have beautiful photos and a gorgeous logo and they might even have their ad or their website, but they don't have an email or a phone number. If I'm handing out my business card to a potential client or a potential partner to work with their business, I want it to be as easy as possible for them to get a hold of me.
I don't want them to have to go dig through my Web site to find a contact form. I don't want them to have to go to my Facebook page and Facebook stalk me to get a hold of me. I want to make it as easy and simple as possible. So I'm going to add my email address and my phone number to my business card. Now, the second thing is you want to make sure that your business card makes it very clear on what you do.
Again, I've received a lot of business cards where it has a great logo that is their name or that is their company name. And they have their website there. They may even have an email address, but they don't tell me what they do. If you're a photographer and your business name does not say photography or even if it does, tell me what type of photographer you are. Do you specialize in families? Do you shoot weddings? Do you do headshots?
Do you do some off the wall? Crazy photography service. I'm not aware of because if I receive your card and I'm looking for a family photographer and all you do are weddings, then I need to know that before I reach out to you. Now, of course, she might be thinking, well, let's go to my website. They'll see that I only do weddings. It'll be fine. Guys, don't assume that people understand that I have nothing on my photography website that says I do families.
I have no newborns. I have no maternity staff. I have none of that on there. No kids, no babies, nothing. But it never fails that multiple times throughout the year, I receive emails from potential clients asking if I shoot newborn sessions or if I offer maternity sessions or if I do families. People don't always understand or know. So you have to be very clear and tell them what it is that you do. So if you are a photographer that specializes in wedding photography, put that on your card.
If you are a hair and makeup artist and you offer both hair and makeup services, put that on your card. If you are a real estate agent who specializes in first time homebuyers. Put that on your card because you want people to know what you do. Because if they're going home at the end of the day with a stack of business cards and yours has a really beautiful logo with your name on it and your web address. And that's all they're not going to remember who you are or what you do.
So make sure you have something on your card that tells people what it is that you do, how you serve people or the product or service that you offer. Now, the third thing that I suggest having on your business cards is a little more of a personal preference. But I'm going to give you my perspective from a client point of view, and that is to add your headshot to your business card. Now, here's a perfect example of why I am terrible with names like to the point where you could tell me your name and 30 seconds later I probably forgot it.
It's something that I'm really trying to work on, but I always joke that I wish that everybody had a name tag with their Facebook profile photo on it because that's what I recognize when I'm scrolling through Facebook. I don't pay attention to the names. I pay attention to the photos. And so the same thing in real life. I'm looking at your face. I'm taking in your face. I'm always listening for the name. So when I go to a networking event or when I'm out somewhere and someone hands me their business card, if it has their face on it, I'm immediately like, oh, my gosh, this is the best thing ever, because now I don't have to worry about remembering a face to the name separately.
I can see them together. And this is a nice reminder that, okay. Her name is Taylor and I need to make sure that this is I call her Taylor. Taylor. Taylor, Taylor. Or this is Sara. I'm going to be reaching out to Sara. This is what she looks like. It's a really easy way for people like me who struggle with remembering names to have a visual of who they were talking to. We all like to think that when we meet somebody and when we share our business with them, that they're going to be just as excited about our business as we are to share it with them.
But the reality is, whether it's talking to somebody and networking event or meeting with a client or talking to somebody about what you do out in public, there's so many things coming at us in a day. There's so much information being thrown at us that it's really easy to forget things. I forget what I'm doing when I walk across the house sometimes and my house is not that big. And so I know how easy it is to get distracted. And so when I'm talking to somebody and I'm thinking about the fact that here I am sharing my services with them, sharing what I do with them, and I give them my business card and it's got my beautiful logo and it's got some pretty pictures of some photography that I've done and my contact information.
And it goes into their purse or goes into their bag when they go home at night and they're looking at. Okay, this is Paisley in photography. Which one is she again? What are you talking about? They have to then go to my Web site, go to the about me section to find a picture of me. If my picture is on that business card, that when they go to pull up that business card and look at who all they talk to that day at that event or at that show or that they run into out in the store, then they're gonna have a face with a name right away and they're gonna make a connection to the product or service I was offering and the person they were talking to.
And guys, in a business in a world where personal connection is huge, we want to make sure we take advantage of every opportunity that we have to have those personal connections, because it's not what it is that you're selling that's going to draw them in. It's the person behind the brand that's selling it and that's you. So having your face on your card, getting yourself to these networking groups and having this face on face, you know, interactions are going to be really huge.
You know, you hear a lot of elevator pitches. I don't really believe in elevator pitches necessarily. They come across a little to sales me. And I know for me when I go to meet somebody and I shake their hand or I say hi. They merely go into this 30 second, you know, really rehearsed kind of spiel about what they do. It immediately kind of turns me off. So what I prefer to do instead is have a very loose idea in my head of a couple of ways that I can introduce myself and what I do that is going to get people interested and asking follow up questions, because you want people to be intrigued about what it is that you do.
And you might be thinking, well, what I do is boring. I don't have intrigue. Find a way to make it interesting. And one good way to do this is go to these networking events and listen, tell other people, introduce themselves and think about what did I like about that one or what did I not like about that one or oh, that one came off a really sales. I don't want to use that tactic. So figuring out what you do and don't like from other people's introductions can help you as well.
So one way that I've done this is when I go to a networking. Event. And I mentioned that I am a photographer, but I don't just say I'm a photographer because a lot of people here photographer and they think, oh, you do everything right. You do families, you do babies, you do weddings, you do seniors. You do it all. So what I say instead is I say I help women build confidence through photography. And that's like, whoa, wait, what do you mean?
You help women build confidence through photography? Like, are you teaching classes? Are you taking photos of women to help them feel great in their skin? Like, what is it that you do more specifically? It's getting people to do follow up questions or it's getting them to say, oh, that's interesting. Tell me more. That's what you want in an introduction. You want it to be kind of like a really good subject line of an email that makes you want to open the email and read what's inside.
So come up with a couple of different statements that feel natural. One way to test them out is with your family and friends. So ask them to pretend that they are at a networking event and they've just met you and they say, oh, what is it that you do? And then throw out a couple of these lines and see which ones feel natural and which ones feel a little too scripted, a little too forced. And that will help you decide the best way and which lines are the best ones for you to use when you're introducing yourself.
Again, the key is you want to give them just enough information about what you do to create interest and intrigue so that they want to follow up with more questions. They want to hear more. Think about when you're out talking with friends and someone starts telling a really interesting story. You know, people kind of naturally lean in when they're interested. Well, if you're at a table of people and you say your line and they all can lean, then that's a good sign.
You want people to lean in and want to know more about what you do. The next thing you want to make sure that you're doing is following the golden rule of treat others the way you want to be treated. So we all go into these networking events with the idea of we want to find people to network with. We want to find potential clients or perfect potential business partnerships. But if we all go in with the agenda, it's all about me, then it's never going to work.
So you have to go into it with the idea that you're going to have honest, sincere conversations that could potentially lead to something down the road. So make sure that you are giving genuine follow up questions. When someone shares what it is they do, ask them things like, well, how long have you been doing this or how did you get started with that? Or ask them things along the lines of, well, what are you planning next?
What's the next big thing you have coming up? Just like you're gonna go into the event with a couple of lines that you're gonna use to share what it is that you do, also have a couple of follow up questions in mind as well that could be applied to anybody you're talking to. Like I said, things like, well, how long you been doing this? What got you interested in this business in the first place? What are some of the exciting things you have coming up in the next couple of months?
Those are the types of questions that let people know that you're listening, that you're interested, and then they're hopefully going to reciprocate that when you're sharing about your business as well. And then finally, you want to make sure that after the event is over, that you follow up with anyone that you met that you would like to continue a conversation with. This might mean that you go grab coffee or you just scheduled time to get on a phone call or email back and forth about ideas.
And I know that for those of us that work from home, it can be really easy to want to just go to an event and then come home and be done and live behind our computers again. But when you make a point to go and you get out of your comfort zone and you go to the coffee date or you get on the call, it makes a big difference. And again, you never know what could potentially come from this. Recently, I met a girl at an event and we decided to go get coffee together.
And the day that it came, I was like, OK, I'm much rather just stay home and do all this work done to have emails to go through. And I have photos to edit and I have podcasts to record. I have so many things my to do list spending an hour or two at a coffee shop with someone I barely know. It's not really high on my priority list, but I went. I made the commitment. I went.
I showed up and it was one of the best conversations I've had in a long time. And we're working together on some really great ideas for the future and we're encouraging each other. And she's sharing on my podcast. I've shared about some things that she's doing and working on. And now we have this really great like mutual relationship between the two of us. And had I never gone to coffee date, had we never followed up with each other after our initial meeting?
I would have missed out on some really great opportunities. So I know that it's comforting to say, well, I own a business where I work from home and I can do it in my pajamas. I can do it for my computer. And that's fabulous. But you cannot do it by yourself as much as we'd like to think that we can. You can't do this by yourself. You have to network with other professionals who can benefit your business and you can benefit theirs.
So this week, I'm leaving you with a challenge. I'm challenging you to find at least one networking event to go to in the next month. I'm not saying you have to go to one tonight or tomorrow, but start looking around. Start researching the networking events in your area that you think might be a really good fit and then go try them out. I'm not asking you to make some huge long term commitment, and I know that there's a lot of introverts right now listening, cringing at the idea of having to step out of his comfort zone.
But I promise you, it will help you grow your business. If you're really nervous, find a friend to go with you, buddy up and go together. Just make sure you are making a point to talk to people that you don't already know. And if you're looking around going. There are no networking events in my area that I feel like I want to be a part of. They are all chambers of commerce. So they're all designed for people who work corporate jobs.
They're all designed for people who have brick and mortar buildings. And that's not what I do. Then create your own networking event. I guarantee if you're looking for it and not finding it, other people are looking for the same thing to. So create it and it doesn't have to be a big thing. It could be as simple as saying, hey, we're going to be at this location from 5:30 to 7:30 for happy hour drinks if you want to join us.
Come join us. You might have three people show up. You might have 13 people show up. You never know. But even if it's as little as two or three people show up, you're going to find value in that and it's going to grow over time. So if you don't already have a networking event in your area that fits your needs, then create it yourself. But either way, I challenge you to get out of your comfort zone.
Find an event to go to start making connections. Start branching out. And you never know where it might take your business. All right, guys, that does it for our episode this week and it wraps up our Marketing Madness series. We've got some exciting things coming up for you in the next couple of weeks, so make sure you hit that subscribe button so you don't miss out on new episodes. Also, if you have not left us a review, will you please do so?
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And I will see you back here next week.
Same time. Same place.