Network Like a Pro: Finding Your Tribe and Building Lasting Connections

Group of professional women at a networking event

As entrepreneurs, we live and breathe connections. But in the vast networking jungle, knowing where to find the right tribe and how to navigate the undergrowth can be daunting. Fear not, fellow business nomads! This post is your compass, guiding you towards fruitful networking and blossoming relationships.

Finding Your Perfect Fit:

Forget one-size-fits-all. Networking groups come in a kaleidoscope of flavors. For you trailblazing ladies, there are a wealth of women-owned groups or dedicated branches within larger networks. If possible, start with your local Chamber of Commerce, then search on meetup, Instagram, or Facebook for your town or area and "small business" "networking" "entrepreneurs" "vendors" to find groups and events.

But don't settle! If the local landscape seems barren, consider carving your own path and starting your own group. Remember, you attract what you radiate.

My Favorite Groups:

Setting the Stage:

Networking isn't a sales pitch on steroids. It's a tango of connections and mutual benefit. My golden rule for networking, whether in person or online, is "Give more than you take." Leave the hard sell at the door, and embrace the art of relationship building. If you are with a direct sales company, be prepared to waltz past objections about "pyramid schemes" – charm and value are your secret weapons. And speaking of weapons, don't underestimate the power of professionalism, even at casual events. Polish your armor, stand tall, and project confidence.

Prepping for the Networking Soiree:

Imagine your elevator pitch as your business card's charismatic cousin. Make it concise, captivating, and memorable. This is your 30-second commercial, your go-to response to "so, what do you do?" that focuses on meeting a need and conveying emotions.  Here's mine: "I help entrepreneurs and small business owners feel more confident and have more success with their marketing. My name is Noel Giger and I'm with ASOM Marketing." Notice that my name and company are at the end. Other people (even business owners) don't care about your name or title. They care about WIIFM - "what's in it for me". I've been at so many events where a person stood up, introduced themselves, then talked for 2 minutes about their company, and I still didn't know what they DID! As the old adage goes "Sell the destination, not the airplane!"

Practice that pitch until it rolls off your tongue like a perfectly brewed latte. Dress to impress, even if the dress code is "come as you are." Remember, first impressions matter! And finally, come armed with knowledge about your business and what you seek – think treasure map, not shopping list.

Bonus Tips for Small Business Owner's Networking:

  • Don't be a quitter: Building relationships takes time. Think marathons, not sprints.

  • Unleash your inner rockstar: Be your authentic self but on your best behavior.

  • Embrace the fun: Networking can be a blast! Let loose and enjoy the ride.

Get Involved:

Don't just attend meetings. Get out of your comfort zone and participate in meaningful ways. Here are some suggestions:

  • Ask if they need a speaker on topics that are related to your areas of expertise. As a marketer, I offer Marketing 101, Building A Strong Community on Social Media, Building Relationships that Last, Customer Service, Understanding the Customer Journey, The Importance of Customer Care, etc,
  • Find out the next fundraiser and ask if you can join the planning committee. Volunteer. Don't just donate a gift certificate or gift basket giveaway, donate your time so people get to know you.
  • Wear your company's brand color or other logo wear - become known in your community.
  • Connect people to resources when you can. Ask "Who would be a good referral for you" or "What does your business need in the next month to be most successful?" - then follow up. If you don't already know someone in that area of need, find someone!

Mastering the Art of Connection:

Preparation is your passport to networking nirvana. Arrive equipped with business cards, brochures (optional), and a trusty notebook for capturing those golden nuggets of information. Don't be a wallflower! Introduce yourself to the organizer and key individuals, even if your social battery needs a recharge. Actively listen, ask open-ended questions, and truly absorb the responses. Be the connector, the bridge between individuals who might spark mutual magic.

The After Party: Follow-Up is Key:

Don't let those connections fizzle out like dying embers. Send a thank-you note or email, a friendly social media message – anything to keep the conversation simmering. Take it a step further by scheduling one-on-ones with individuals who resonate with you. Deeper conversations can blossom into collaborations that bear sweet fruit. And - it's a great time to ask what other groups they network in, and if you could be a guest!


  • Be strategic: Prioritize your interactions and focus on those with the most potential benefit. Time is precious!
  • Goals, goals, goals: Knowing what you want from networking keeps you focused and helps you measure your success.
  • Give, give, give: Offer specific requests and referrals, not just sales pitches. Be a helper, not a taker.

So, my fellow entrepreneurs, confidently step into the networking arena, armed with these tips and a genuine desire to connect. Remember, it's about building relationships, not just collecting contacts. Happy networking!

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