Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Networking: Pushing Beyond Your Comfort Zone

I had a client once who was a self-professed millionaire. It was important that he make this distinction about himself because his business was teaching others a wealth building system that involved real estate investing. He hired me to write a keynote speech for him about networking for success, and he said something to me that really stood out. He said that a lot of people who want to be successful in life don't know how to network properly. Most of the people we interact with are at our same level when it comes to financial and business success. If you want to move beyond where you are, you need to make an effort to surround yourself with those who already do what you want to do, or have accomplished what you hope to accomplish.

Now I find a lot of truth to this. It's a puzzle I am still trying to figure out. I have steady work, but I am beginning to realize that I could find more success working with corporations instead of focusing solely on other small businesses. After all, aren't those guys struggling to make it just like me?

We are comfortable being around people that are like ourselves. But to be successful in freelance writing or any other business, you need to push beyond that comfort zone. You have to figure out how to begin networking with those willing to pay you generously for your services. I do a lot of copywriting. A new marketing strategy I've been using has revealed to me that many corporations work with freelance writers like myself, and pay quite well. Peter Bowerman author of The Well Fed Writer has mentioned this in his books. Now I am determined to break in.

When you attend networking events, there are a few simple rules you should follow:

  • Rehearse how you will introduce yourself to others. Make sure you include all of the important information including your name, company name and what you do. You will spend less time obsessing over what to say, and free up some of the brain cells needed to remember the names of the people you meet and feel them out.
  • Listen more than you speak. Enough said.
  • Always, always, always follow up when you meet someone at an event and exchange information. If you don't do this, you could be passing up some amazing opportunities.

I network a lot online, but I need to spread my wings and join my city's chamber of commerce and take advantage of some other local opportunities to network my way toward even more opportunities.

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