This is the quick story on how I found networking, and ultimately success. I was 24 years old, and was just told to take my things home from my desk, and not come back. I was effectively let go, and out the door I went to the road of self employment. I won’t bore you with the intimate details of how this all came to be, but I think it’s important to talk about the struggle that came after as it may be the same struggle for you and many other small and mid-size business owners.
Going from steady income as a Senior web developer to running my own little web design business in an attic apartment that I rented in Long Island was a fun transition, but a hurtle nonetheless. Just making ends meet and a slow progress over the next few years left me wondering how much longer till I felt good, accomplished and most importantly safe.
After growing my clientele to a comfortable size I still had only made a small dent in the mission for success. I was, of course, like many of you, working on all aspects of my business alone, marketing, designing, developing, client satisfaction and relations. All this plus more, and without any in-depth knowledge on how to run a successful business.
Fast forward 4 years and a few ups and downs later, I’m in my later twenties when I discovered what true business networking is. This wasn’t my first time around networking but it was different, I was used to referral networking like LeTip and BNI, but this new group I joined was everything but that.
These people just wanted to help me grow my business for the sake of helping. They would connect me with more people in their personal networks, who would then point me to other people who became my mentors, business partners, clients, and best yet, true friends. The more time I invested in networking the more possibilities and opportunity I saw.
Networking for me was flipped on its head, and I never wanted to go back to that old way of life once I knew what a true business community felt like.
I’ll be honest, If you had told me before all this, that all I needed to grow my business was to simply join a networking group, I wouldn’t have believed you. But it’s all true, business networking has propelled me to new grounds and mountain tops I never would have otherwise known existed, quite literally.
I had a new outlook at what it means to be in business, and the best part was that I didn’t have to do it alone anymore. I needed this more than anything else, even money. This is why this is important, and why you should care deeply about your business networks. I want you to win more and succeed like I did. I want more freedom, and more fun in life and in business. This is what success is for me.
Better Networking Creates More Business
You win by helping others win
So you have an idea why I’m here, and what my mission turned into over time. I now know the reasons why networking is so beneficial and I’m here to tell you why you too should make it a part of your story, and how to do it correctly so you don’t fall into the pit hole of slow, stagnating growth or referral networking programs that charge you a boat load annually and then again per meeting. That only works short term. I’ll show you the ease of networking, and how you can do it for free, to start growing your business in a healthy way.
1. Warning: Networking is not…
Before you just run off and join a networking group now, you should be warned about what networking is not. Firstly, it is not a competition. It’s also not a place to come and fish for clients, a place to pitch, and pitch and pitch. Just like your home town and any large successful organization, good networking groups are a community. We are people just like you, we have emotional needs, desires, interests, and each person communicates differently.
We are not just talking wallets that you can come and sell your product or services to. We can smell you from a mile away when all you do is come into a room, asking for sales, and look for clients. Don’t do it. You will find more clients and connections to clients when you stop being selfish.
2. Help your network first.
I no longer cared that we were supposed to be rivals.
– James Holliday, Ready Player One
Authentic is a word tossed around a lot, it almost looses its meaning, but that is exactly what networking should be, real people working and building up with other real people. A community is built with people helping others learn, grow, and connect more. In a community you will find mothers, brothers, sisters, fathers, and grandparents. Each in a different parts of life and with different experiences, needs, and connections.
Asking how you might be able to help your networks in your own way is what makes you stand out. Start to see how you can help people first and the law of reciprocation will do the rest of the work for you. I’ll pose a hypothetical, your best friend and a stranger set up a lemonade stand, who would you buy lemonade from? Become a friend in your network, simple as that.
3. Super star connector.
So how do you break through and become a networking success story? Start with getting to know each other deeper. When you become more than a familiar face with your networks you start to find out more about each others deeper needs. And that goes past selling a product or getting a new client.
Start becoming a super connector and help your network community by connecting people who you think might be a good match. They may be a good match based on business interest, location, or even small stuff like sports and hobbies. It doesn’t matter if they ever use each others service, they might connect deeply and be forever thankful you connected them. I have many examples of those.
4. Getting started.
Finding networking groups is a piece of cake, just google your local networking groups for in person events, or better yet, search LinkedIn to find the ones not listed locally and join in virtually (these are gems and I’ll get into VR Networking next). To start you should find 2 networking groups to join weekly. Thats my recommended dose and it’s what I do. Often though I will also reach out and find a new group to join if I have the time that week.
Once you are in a group start connecting. Find good people and see what interests them, find out their story, and ask to connect on a personal 1-to-1 call. These calls are where your relationships really grow. Keep doing this and start growing your own personal network and watch the magic happen.
5. Keep a record.
There is no way for you to keep all these great new connections fresh on your mind for long. As you continue to grow your super connector skills, and list of new friends, you will need to start a database of people. To make things easy all you need is some basic information from the people you connect with, and by the time you get on your first 1-to-1 conversation you will already have collected most of this info.
Your database can be designed however works for you. There are many different templates you can find online. To keep it short, the major data points you need are your networkers names, emails, phone number, websites, type of business, and maybe some of their personal interests.
Keep this as simple or as complex as you want, but the point is to have something so you can simply scroll through and find connections that help your networks connect more. It takes less than a minute to find two people in your database that might really benefit from knowing each other. Remember, help and connect.
That’s it, simple and brilliant. If you do this regularly the real magic will start happening. The more connections you foster the more connected you will be. Trust the system, plant the seeds, and watch your company grow. You will thank me later.
CONINVR Mission and VR Networking
Networking In VR
Now that you know what networking is all about, and how you can start using it as a tool for business success, we can start talking about VR and how it will change the way we network.
To talk about that, first we need to address how networking won’t change. All the things we spoke about here are the things that won’t change. Helping your community, connecting with others, developing strong bonds and trust. All that, helps your business and the businesses of others flourish and grow.
The powerful difference that changes the game is Social VR platforms like AltspaceVR and others like it. In VR, business owners can connect in a fun and interactive way that Zoom or real world meetings just cannot replicate. We can find people who love the same things by attending topical events, bounce from world to world, enjoy live entertainment and best of all form business connections with people from around the globe who you would have never before had the opportunity to meet.
This plays into our mission, though we want to take it a step further. CONINVR will be the hub of future VR Networking events. Read more on “what is VR Networking?” Our plan is to help business owners like you thrive IRL (in real life) by utilizing the social tools VR will bring us. Our strategy is simple. We want to raise the largest business networking community and educate them on networking, business, and work-life balance.
We want to use VR to make business connection global in a way never done before! Our plan is to put business growth and success into hyper drive. Current statistics show 95% of businesses fail within the first 5 years. We know that 95% failure rate is absurd. Would you take that bet on your life? I don’t think so. We want to bring that rate down 25% lower to a healthy 70%. You might ask how we plan to do that.
So to fix that we will be bringing some of the top coaches in business, health and wellness, life balance, and professional relationship from around the world into VR to help you and your business grow. With a powerful network of business coaches, you the business owner, have more opportunities to succeed and do right by yourself, your families and your community.
There’s that word again, community! That’s why networking is so important.
So take the next step, learn from top business leaders around the world, come join our networks. All this is happening at our VR Networking events. We will get you CONNECTED.
That’s the meaning, motto and lifeblood of CONINVR, better business connections in VR.
OASIS was never supposed to be a one player game
– James Holliday, Ready Player One
And your business shouldn’t be either.