From looking at this site, you may think that I am one of those natural networkers, those people who can just walk into a room and meet 5 new clients.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
In 2011, I lost my teaching job. I tried to get another job in the public schools, but after over 100 applications and 15 interviews, the new school year started and I still didn’t have a job.
I decided to become a private tutor.
I loved being able to work with students one on one, but it was hard, too. It was lonely being on my own without a school community and coworkers. And I knew I was supposed to be doing certain things, like making cold calls and meeting teachers who could refer me, but I just couldn’t make myself do it.
I slowly built up my tutoring business through gaining a positive reputation with teachers and principals, but I never had the guts to do the networking I knew I should be doing.
Along the way, I fell in love with entrepreneurship.
I listened to every business podcast I could find, read hundreds of blog posts on topics ranging from how to build an email list to how to create a unique brand, and even took classes in Denver on how to build a business.
But the whole time, I felt like I couldn’t be a real entrepreneur. I was just a tutor.
Then I started a website business with my best friend Danielle called Grit Girls Consulting. We met with business owners, helped them identify what made them unique, and then built their websites. But website building wasn’t making us excited to get up every morning. We decided to start a Meetup group called Evolving Entrepreneurs, in which we connected entrepreneurs to passion and purpose.
Then I attended Pioneer Nation, a conference for small business owners and entrepreneurs in Portland, Oregon. At the conference, Shenee Howard, a successful entrepreneur, gave a talk in which she said that she became successful by talking to people. She did what she calls the 100 People Project – she talked to 100 people for 15 minutes each, developed an online course based on what they told her they wanted, and when she launched the course, it sold out.
This got me thinking. What if I talked to 100 entrepreneurs about what they really wanted in a networking event? Danielle and I could shape our events and make them perfect for our audience.
But then something unexpected happened.
The more I talked to entrepreneurs, the more I heard people say that they didn’t like networking events, but still had built a thriving network around their businesses.
I realized how wrong my mindset and approach to network building had been when I started tutoring, and I quickly learned that even I, an introvert, could build a thriving network by doing things like giving back to others and asking good questions.
And I changed my mission.
With 101 Conversations, I want to learn what is working for entrepreneurs in building their networks, and what is keeping them stuck. As I learn how to build a network, I want to teach other entrepreneurs how to do it with me.