Lena is a passionate artist who helped me think about common fears about going to networking events. Do you think you are the only one who dreads them? Think again.
Location: Sunnyvale, California
Business: Art and illustration
How we met: Lena was at Pioneer Nation
Lena is in the beginning stages of defining her target audience and her business.
She has already done a lot of different things, including doing portraits, working with brides, and creating artwork for people doing ancestry research, but she is searching for a more well defined brand and niche.
We discussed the difficulty of knowing how much planning to do before you jump in and start “doing business.” My experience has been to hit the ground running and refine along the way. The problem with doing that, however, is that I sometimes find myself doing work I don’t totally love, and then I have the problem of figuring out when to step away.
Lena is looking for a coach to help her take a more thoughtful approach to finding her niche and pursuing her business.
“Networking can feel like going to the gym – you don’t want to do it, but you feel like you should.”
Lena was really helpful in getting me to think about all of the barriers people have when they think about “networking.” Here are a few:
- Feeling like you’re the new kid on the block
- Seeing the same jargon again and again
- The nervousness that comes with entering the building and not knowing what to do
- Invisible narratives in our brains about what networking looks like – handing out dozens of business cards and having shallow conversations
- The scariness of being alone in a room of strangers
Having empathy and naming those barriers upfront could be a powerful way of encouraging people to get out there and start growing their network.
Lena herself started going to networking events because of her pure necessity to connect with others. She made the point that people have different reasons for getting out there and meeting others. Some lose their jobs and suddenly realize that they need to expand their network – a reactive approach. Others take a more proactive approach.
Lena has connected with different types of groups, including groups for creatives, international groups, and groups with a travel focus. This made me think that growing a community is about more than “networking” – it’s about meeting people and connecting with them. Maybe groups with an emphasis on “networking” seem less attractive, because instead of focusing on meeting people with similar interests, they are blatantly focused on getting referrals.
Lena helped me think of ways to promote events.
She suggested naming specific benefits that people could get from attending, like tripling your income or discovering co-working spaces. Just like launching a product, an event launch should also build anticipation. And, as I mentioned before, we discussed naming all of the barriers and fears people have about networking. Empathy can go a long way to getting people in the door.
- People have a lot of fear about networking – it’s important to address these fears upfront.
- Networking events should be structured to welcome newbies and make them feel at home.
- I have heard from many people that “networking” has a negative connotation. I am wondering how to create a positive experience of connection without using the word “networking,” but still attracting people who want to grow their network.
Lena is an artist who is trying to define her target audience and her brand. She helped me dissect the negative ideas surrounding networking and provided great insight about how to market networking events.
Lena wants to connect with:
If you want to connect with Lena, check out her Facebook profile here.
1 step you can take to grow your network today:
If you don’t like going to networking events, DON’T GO! Build your network in a more creative way.