Let’s talk about your network. You know, all the friends, suppliers, customers, connections, and people you know that encompass your career.
It is, and will always be, who you know that matters.
What are you doing to strengthen or build that these days?
If you are like a lot of people, you may be stuck in your “COVID-cave” and in lockdown mode. Whether that is mandated by your government or your personal preference, we simply are not doing much these days with the idea of expanding our business, friendship, or intellectual community.
The Good Ol’ Days of Networking
Previously, people used live events as the possibility to meet new people and expand their reach.
It was pretty easy. There were trade shows, supplier learning events or product demos, chamber of commerce functions, association meetings, and other local community events.
All you had to do was show up with a pocket full of business cards and a smile.
I used to repeat this phrase, “Your best friend is only a handshake away.”
Now, we aren’t shaking hands or attending live events much. Although I think that could be rebounding soon as 2021 progresses. (Fingers crossed!)
What Are Your Pathways to a Better Network?
First, be clear on what you want.
For example, are you accepting and working with everyone that connects with you on social media?
Probably not. I know I don’t.
Focus on the end result. New connections, or activating older ones, should be about driving the benefits of those connections.
- Do they know something you don’t?
- Are they connected to others that you want to meet?
- Could they be new customers?
- Also, what are you offering to them?
The Boom of Virtual Events
What actually is an event? Is it a huge affair with lots of people, or can it just be a one on one meeting? Let’s rethink what you consider to be a virtual event.
You can do virtual meetings and set up your own opportunities, but you need some better tools. If you reading this are you setting up video calls?
There is such a thing as Zoom fatigue, so to stand out you need to do things a little differently.
I like the human-to-human element of using video as people like that connection. It’s one thing to have a phone call, another to have a face to face chat. Zoom is popular for this, but I’ve been using UberConference which allows for a simpler setup. I know a lot of people that are using Google Meet or Microsoft Teams.
The tool to use is less important than actually setting this up and doing it.
One trick I heard, which I thought was brilliant, was sending a branded coffee mug and K-cup of coffee to someone to “meet for coffee” with a link to set up the video call. It’s about getting more engagement folks. Something like this is a great way to foster that step. Unless of course, they like tea better. But you get my point.
Something that I’ve been doing for about a month now is LunchClub. This is a free app that allows you to meet new people that share your interests. You fill out some information, and then the app selects someone with those attributes. Mine were “marketing”, “entrepreneurship”, “consulting”, and “sales.” So far, I’ve had some very interesting conversations and it’s been fun.
Networking in Mastermind Groups
Have you joined a Mastermind Group yet?
In an era where it is hard to get together, these are truly beneficial. I know you have heard the Jim Rohn adage, “you are the average of the five people you surround yourself with.”
I think that’s true.
Look around you right now. Who are you constantly talking to, sharing information, and challenging each other? If it looks bleak and uninspiring, maybe it’s time to find a new source of beneficial stimulation and conversation.
And of course, I have one. It’s called the Shirt Lab Tribe.
Shirt Lab Tribe
If you sell decorated apparel this is the mastermind group that you need to be in. Sure, you can get some answers from the dozens of Facebook groups or YouTube channels that you belong to…but how do you know the answers and ideas they are spouting actually work?
Shirt Lab Tribe is different. We operate with a code of professional standards. We’re all about mentorship and helping each other.
Each day of the week is something different.
Membership in the Tribe is for your entire company, not just you.
Make It Happen Mondays
Tribe members share the goals or accomplishments they want to achieve by Friday. What’s fun is when a few members are working on similar ideas or work. Lots of offline conversations have happened that way.
Tuesday Q&A: Tribe Networking
Every single Tuesday there is a live Zoom Q&A group session. Tribe members bring the challenges they are experiencing or questions about building something new and the group helps them solve them. This is how a network can help each other. Each session is recorded for viewing later.
We are all about positivity. Tribe members can share the victories they are making so everyone can give them a virtual high-five. This is a mid-week momentum builder.
Thursday Expert Presentations
Every single week a seasoned pro shares a slice of their knowledge with the group with a presentation on a topic of interest. You can ask questions and get the answers you need. Each presentation is recorded for viewing later.
Fun Fact Fridays
Did you learn something new this week? You can share it with the Tribe and everyone can benefit.
Surveys on Saturday
We publish a survey every Saturday to understand what’s going on in the industry. This helps us build better presentation guests, content for the Tribe, or a forward-thinking activity we might do. What’s fun is that other Tribe members are answering the same survey, and as we publish the results, you can see where everyone else is on the same topic.
Shirt Lab Tribe Research Center
All of the recorded content from our Q&As, Expert Presentations, and some of our Live events are housed in a website area called the Shirt Lab Tribe Research Center. We also are creating educational video content just for this area. You can binge-watch videos and learn.
“Surround yourself only with people who are going to lift you higher.” – Oprah Winfrey
“You can have everything in life that you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar
“There are two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.” – Mark Twain