The Fabulous Five of Networking Tips

Why am I thinking about networking on a Friday?

The idea for the blog popped into my head about a week and a half ago (consequently, the same time my friend Kristin Hardwick came up with some genius networking tips of her own to share on social media for the local CoWorking space she is opening). As I sit down to write this, I am taking stock of the upcoming week and month and paying attention to the networking opportunities coming down the pike. There sure are a lot! I polled a group of local entrepreneur’s to get their take on what the best networking advice is and I whittled it down to my top five. Surprisingly, no one had advice on brushing your teeth or coming across with a strong handshake, but those are perhaps a little too obvious :)

  1. RESEARCH prior to going. How many people will be there? It is a sit-down situation or mix and mingle. Ideally you want to have enough business cards for however you will be connecting with. This means, if you are attending a roundtable or BNI-style event, you will want one for every person in the room. If you’re attending a Business After Hours type event, you may want enough to connect with about 10-20% of the people in the room. Bonus points if you research at least one person who you know is attending and get the scoop on them and their business before even stepping foot into the door!

  2. BRING A WINGMAN or WINGWOMAN: This person can help you break into the crowd, scout out great connections for you, and make more impact by helping introduce you to the right people. They can also shower you with their accolades when introducing you (in a way you can’t always do for yourself) and of course… you can rescue each other from bad conversations.

  3. BRING A SMILE and a GOOD ATTITUDE: In networking, positivity is the key! No one wants to hear about how stressed you are, how busy your day was, or about something gloomy or sad. Steer clear of potentially sensitive topics and stay upbeat and positive! People won’t want to interact with you if you’re a “negative Nancy” so stay energetic and SMILE whenever you can.

  4. GET DEEPER and CONNECT: You definitely want to stay professional, but asking deeper questions about their business, why they chose to do what they do, and what makes them passionate about their work are great alternatives to the normal small talk. Listening, being authentic and genuinely caring how you can help them are the biggest gifts you can give someone. Ask them the right questions and you will make a lasting impact!

  5. FOLLOW UP: Be sure to follow up with people you met and wish to collaborate with further. Don’t let their business cards just sit in your wallet for months —send an email or personal note the next day if you can! One wise entrepreneur friend of mine recommends setting aside an hour in your day the following day to followup and connect with those you met at the prior event.

And lastly, have fun!

Marching Orders

I am going to be brutally honest, March was not an easy month for me. Everyone around me was sailing on the breezes of warmer weather and stirring up new ideas and collaborations and meanwhile, I was digging trenches and digging them DEEP.

It sometimes needs to be done. To get to where we most want to go, we have to go through a muddy and often uncomfortable season first. I remember feeling frazzled when we first bought our home, there were boxes everywhere, my life was in complete upheaval and for a homebody like myself, and a creature of habit and routine —it was not a pretty picture. I also remember being “in the zone” while planning my wedding. The zone where everything was a bit blurry and covered with pink flowers, and I was definitely not myself. I became an evil dictator with a spreadsheet and a clipboard. I got through that craze too…

But this was different, March was the month we closed one business while I was simultaneously launching another. To give you some background, my husband and I owned Tucked in Organics; a lovely mattress store in Amherst, NH and due to unforeseen circumstances, we were forced to close. However, during that time, I also launched my Professional Assistant business. This is a day in the life during March:

  • Wake up at 4 or 5am because I can’t stop thinking about everything I need to do

  • Do as much of it as I can before my husband gets up and the dog starts whining to go out

  • Feed dog and make our morning smoothies

  • Work some more while chugging coffee and water

  • Row 5,000 meters on the rowing machine because I was part of a rowing challenge and couldn’t give up or quit!

  • Drive to the store, spend my day regaling the retail customers while juggling conference calls, projects, etc. both wanting people to buy things, and also wanting to get back to work so my to-do list could get tamed down a bit!

  • Explain to everyone (and their mothers) why we were closing, what I was doing next, and giving out deals like I was a bank being robbed. I was literally selling things off for far less than I paid for them and it all just felt so wrong…

This was all happening five days a week, and the other two were spent cleaning the house, (which never really got that tender loving care I like to give it when cleaning) working from home, and burning a lot of gasoline and vehicle mileage with all my running around!

Essentially, I was the human girl version of a chicken with it’s head cut off. The person who didn’t take the time to breathe or blink. All the while I had the knowledge that I was on the verge of something and about to dive in!

What did I glean from all of this? Unfortunately, I am not sure if it made me any better at handling stress, but I did learn:

  1. I didn’t drop any balls - I would say for the most part, except for friends and self-care (both of which I sadly put on the backburner), I was able to keep on juggling! I am thanking this talent on lots of support from my family, community, and husband, and a fair amount of falling asleep on the couch by 8pm.

  2. No one realllllyyyyy noticed - Many people were none the wiser, they told me I seemed calm, happy, and relaxed. Which was hilarious given the fact that I felt like I was being chased by a pack of wild boars 99% of my day.

  3. Life meets us with waves and phases and sometimes you have to PUSH. Then there are other times to sit back, relax, coast…

What phase have you just gone through,
what lessons did you learn through it? Have you ever gone through ending a chapter and beginning another at the same time and how did you handle it?

If You are an Entrepreneur, You Will Appreciate this Story!

No Longer the “Mattress Girl”

In my “About Me” section, I mentioned that I was the former owner of a retail store. Tucked in Organics and is quite literally tucked away in Amherst, New Hampshire in a quaint shopping plaza. As the guru that helped people choose their beds I was known as “Mattress Girl”, “Mattress Lady”, and “Mattress Queen”. If the shoe fits, wear it —so they say!

The shoe did fit. For four and a half years, until my husband and I decided to close our doors and venture into new territory (another story for another blog). The only question that remained was, “What was this new thing going to be?”

My husband has had a successful and busy house painting gig for years, and gave me the world-is-your-oyster-nod-of-approval". Of course, with the caveat that I better get the pearl inside that oyster quickly because we still need to pay our mortgage!

I can honestly say I have never been in that position, I’ve always just sort of fallen into the next thing time and time again, job after job. So, I started searching for positions on indeed.com to see what normal people do nowadays. I gained a lot of skills and valuable experience from my work history as well as running the business, I figured I was hire-able. Should I apply these skills and spruce up my resume to land me a 9-5? Did I want to clock in and clock out everyday? Some aspects of this sounded great! While others sounded a bit like… well, a prison sentence, for someone with an entrepreneurial spirit like myself. I had a hunch I would get a bit bored, a bit too quickly!

Because I wanted to stick to my M.O. of being a business owner, I went and got my real estate license, of course! I had a friend in the business who said I would be good at it and I envisioned myself leading people through their dream homes with them ooh-ing and aah-ing the whole way. After passing the test and going through the licensing process, I started a coaching program and did in fact get my first client. Who turned out not to be a client after all— but at least it gave me the opportunity to quickly learn that I don’t think this is what I want to do with my life, at all! Next up: Financial Planning! Brilliant! I love consulting people and how fun would it be to tell them how to spend their money! I went to discuss this option with two local partners offering an enticing opportunity but I could just never really get on board with the idea in my heart of hearts.

What I really wanted to do…

Was something I had been doing all along without even knowing it! I loved helping people organize events, do projects, manage social media, and build the stuff of THEIR dreams! I loved community, collaboration, and being alongside and supporting entrepreneurs. So, I just simply started saying “Yes” to helping people. I said “Yes” to She Built This and becoming the Chairperson of the Souhegan Valley Chamber. Everything started clicking into place for me and I realized THIS is what it feels like to be following your dreams. This is what it means to dive in!

It is my mission to help YOU follow your dreams and encourage you and stand next to you while you are achieving your goals. Thank you for allowing me on your journey with you!

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