Just thinking about networking events makes me break out in cold sweats. The thought of going to an event where I don’t know anyone sounds like a night of torture, regardless of the free appetizers.
Now, only a six months later, I LOVE networking! This is something I NEVER thought I would say. How did this drastic change come about?
It’s all about organic networking. This is the process of building authentic relationships with people who can provide each other value.
It all started with a Facebook group called Pacific Northwest Outdoor Women (PNWOW). If you live in the area and enjoy the outdoors, go join the group because these women seriously rock. The community is so supportive, kind, and helpful that I decided I needed to find a similar group for small business owners.
Sounds easy, right!? It wasn’t. I didn’t feel very comfortable in the local photography groups I was already a part of, and the limited small business or networking groups I found seemed forced.
What’s a girl to do? Out of options, I stepped up and created my own Facebook group, PNW Boss Babes. If you live in the Pacific Northwest and own your own business, go join! If you don’t live in Washington, Idaho, or Oregon, that’s fine! You’re still welcome!
Between PNW Boss Babes and PNWOW, I started attending local meetups at bars and group hikes, networking in a way that was authentic to me. I no longer felt that networking was a forced interaction with cringe-worthy small talk. Instead it’s about building authentic relationships (online and in person) and creating real friendships.
My advice is to ditch the stuffy networking conferences (you don’t want to attend them anyway) and find a supportive local community. If you can’t find one that fits your needs, create one and you’ll be surprised by the outpouring of community support.
I’ll be looking forward to meeting you on PNW Boss Babes. If you have another great group to check out, let me know in the comments!